December 31, 2013

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Lady Gaga feat. Christina Aguilera - Do What U Want (Remix)

There had been some rumors swirling since late 2008 that the two divas had a feud after Christina made some comments about Lady Gaga, however, it looks like any animosity that existed has subsided. Lady Gaga performed this song as a duet with Christina on The Voice earlier last month sparking discussion of an official remix. The wait is over and the remix has been released. Christina replaces controversial R&B star R. Kelly on the second verse and adds her signature growls and high notes throughout the song. Many had pointed out how Gaga's voice bore a striking resemblance to the Christina's when the song first came out. The two singers' voices blend perfectly resulting in a great remix.

-Listen to a clip and purchase the remix here (iTunes)


December 22, 2013

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Melissa Etheridge - Uprising Of Love (Bent Collective Remix)

This is a special new single recorded by the veteran rocker. The timely lyrics speak of getting together and spreading love so it overcomes hate. The positive message is always welcome and is particularly relevant right now. This song surfaced via a couple of remixes by Bent Collective (a remix trio made up of Danny Verde, Guy Scheiman, and Steven Redant). They make this song into a rollicking anthem. Melissa's vocals are awesome and inspiring. These are also maybe the first official club remixes that have ever been done of Melissa's work. Proceeds generated from the sale of the single will go to charity. Read more about the Uprising Of Love initiative here.

Listen to the Bent Collective remix here:

Grade: A+

December 17, 2013

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Kimberly Davis - With You (Remixes)

This is the latest single from the big voiced diva who broke out in 2010 with "Get Up" and "Twist Of Love." Kimberly delivers yet another great vocal performance. There are 33 remixes, dubs, and edits spread out over 3 digital singles representing multiple styles including Dubstep, Electro House, Freestyle, Funky House, Big Room Tribal, and and Soulful House. Dave Aude, DJ Escape & Tony Coluccio, Paul Goodyear, Soulbeats, and Twisted Dee's mixes end up being the best of the bunch though all are pretty good.

Listen to clips and purchase the remixes: (JunoDownload)
Single #1
Single #2
Single #3

Grade: A

December 13, 2013

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Beyoncé - BEYONCÉ (Album Review)

Many had expected the R&B superstar to release her new album a short time after her Superbowl performance earlier this year, however, she announced a new tour during which a few new songs were performed in addition to her biggest hits. Stories about the songs from the 5th album's recording sessions being scrapped surfaced and the album had no definite release date. But that was until last night.

Beyoncé ceremoniously unveiled her self-titled visual album that was available immediately on iTunes with both the songs and accompanying music videos for every song. This is a major gamechanger as most artists tend to release at least one or two singles to radio before their album is officially released along with multiple promotional appearances, interviews, and other things to build anticipation and interest in the album. Only a few artists have released an album without a single preceding it. Prince's Around The World In A Day was released in that fashion after the massive Purple Rain, with a first single only being released a full month after the album had been on store shelves. The inclusion of the video album is nothing new as other artists including Beyoncé herself did something like that for B'Day several years ago, but to release it with the album at the same time is different.

The album does not stray too far from the R&B sound she is known for, but this is her most experimental effort to date with Ambient, Electro, Dubstep, and even some Disco being represented in varying degrees. There are nearly a dozen producers and songwriters involved in the 14 tracks.

Overview of all of the songs:

Pretty Hurts This Dubstep inflected song is a dark song about paying the price of fame and is a commentary on society's notions of perfection and superficial beauty. Perhaps this is a window into her much guarded private life.

Haunted Composed as a suite with multiple tempos and different styles throughout, this one is similarly dark as the prior track. It's a bit all over the place but it's so well sung.

Drunk In Love (Featuring JAY Z) The super sensual slow jam features her husband joining in the fun.

Blow This porntastic Disco/R&B club banger is all about the carnal pleasure she is receiving courtesy of her lover. This is cut from the same cloth as Madonna's "Where Life Begins" which is about this same type of 'special love'.

No Angel Sung mostly in her breathy falsetto voice, this song has you craving that special someone to be there with you right now.

Partition This track opens with the "Yonce" interlude setting the stage for one of the most sexually explicit songs she has ever released. The interlude is half rapped, half sung. It builds up with a siren like synth before "Partition" comes in.

Jealous This highly relatable song about how two can play the jealousy game is loads of fun.

Rocket This is yet another erotic, playful song.

Mine (Featuring Drake) The R&B/Electro midtempo packs quite the punch with its various sounds.

XO The Ambient/Electropop track is easily the catchiest song from the record.

***Flawless (Featuring Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) This originally surfaced as "Bow Down" several months back, however this one is far more developed. Manic and frantic, this one has a clear Prince influence with the multiple pitch shifted vocal effects.

Superpower (Featuring Frank Ocean) This dramatic duet with rising star Frank Ocean has so many effective subtle elements. Their voices blend beautifully.

Heaven Everything about this gorgeous piano ballad is perfect from the vocals to the melody and the lyrics.

Blue (Featuring Blue Ivy) The album closer features some cute vocals from her daughter adding to the otherworldly feel of the song.

Despite the myriad of sounds and styles, this album ends up being her strongest. Beyoncé's voice is in top form as it always is. The experimental nature makes this quite a grower. The sexual nature of some of the songs may be a tad much for some, however, it is not over the top and in your face the way some other artists have lately. Every single track is well done with none feeling like filler or that they were just added in for the sake of adding it. The highlights include "Blow", "Haunted", "XO", "Partition", "Rocket", and "Heaven".

The album is available exclusively through iTunes right now, however, a physical edition with both the songs and music videos will be released in the coming weeks.

Grade: A

December 10, 2013

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Ben Manson & Gerald Henderson - Magic Orgasm

In its original incarnation released in 1997, this was one of the Twisted Records' most famous hits. The song consisting of just two words repeated over and over was hypnotic when coupled with the sleazy production by the late Peter Rauhofer. The song has been updated by Ben Manson and Henderson with the vocals being the only aspect connecting back to the original. The production is tribal, but it doesn't really go anywhere. This would work better as a DJ tool layered over another track.

-Listen to clips and purchase the mixes here (Beatport)

Grade: B+

December 7, 2013

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Haim - Forever (Giorgio Moroder Remix)

This was the trio's debut single released late last year. It has only recently begun to get mainstream attention. The lush 80s throwback vibe of the song is really lovely, especially with the dreamy production and the ladies' stunning vocals. Giorgio Moroder has produced a remix that stays true to the original but takes it to the next level with the added vocoder vocals. The remix surpasses the original.

-Listen to the original here (YouTube)
-Listen to the Giorgio Moroder remix here (Soundcloud)

Grade: A

December 3, 2013

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Ranny feat. Deepa Soul - Feva (Remixes)

This collaboration of tribal producer/DJ Ranny and soulful singer Deepa Soul (of "Nowhere Love" and "As I Am" fame) has already been doing very well on the Billboard Dance Club Play chart. Deepa Soul's vocals soar over the synthy big room production of the original versions. There are nearly a dozen additional remixes by Carlos Gomix, Deep Influence, E-Thunder, Gustavo Scorpio, Henriq Moraes & Ranlusy Louis Mor, John Rizzo, and Karim Cato & Raffa Vergara. Nearly all of the mixes are variations of the circuit and big room styles with the exception of the Disco/Funky House Shplank mix. Of the circuit mixes, the Deep Influence one is the best of the bunch along with the original Ranny mix.

Purchase the mixes here and here (iTunes)

Grade: A

December 1, 2013

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Cherie Lily - Body (Remixes) Part 1

This is the latest single from the singer and creator of Houserobics. The super sexy, bootyshaking club track recalls the glory days of Technotronic. There are plenty of remixes by Brian 'Serving' Ovahness, Eddie Martinez, Fumi Kondoh, Joshua D, and Nick Harvey in addition to Cherie's own main mix with Vjuan Allure. Serving Ovahness turns this into a pumping circuit anthem with its hard beats and perfectly timed vocal drops. Eddie Martinez's tribal reworking will push dancefloors into overdrive. Fumi Kondoh's mix is runway-ready, recalling Peter Rauhofer's mid 90s Size Queen project. Joshua D's synthy peak hour mix is contemporary. Last but not least is Nick Harvey's own tribal mixes. These are his usual big room circuit goodness. He has a special knack for working on songs of this nature. His dub has an entirely different drummy production. Overall, every remix is really great. Part 1 will be released on December 17, 2013 for purchase wherever digital music is sold. A 2nd set of remixes will be released in early 2014.

-Watch the sexy music video for the original here (YouTube)
-Listen to some previews of all the mixes:

Grade: A
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Manila Luzon feat. Jinkx Monsoon - Bring It!

This is a new collaboration involving two former contestants from RuPaul's Drag Race including season 3 runner up Manila Luzon and season 5 winner, Jinkx Monsoon. It is written by Adam Joseph and Manila Luzon and produced by Jared Jones. This divalicious track is so much fun with its infectious chorus and the big booming production. It has all the makings of a club hit.

Purchase the song at iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play

Grade: A

November 30, 2013

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Chicane feat Bryan Adams - Don't Give Up (Reboot 2013)

Originally released in 2000 and then re-released in 2004, the song topped the UK chart in its initial release. It was also a big hit in U.S. clubs via the remixes by Johnny Vicious, Michael T. Diamond, Peter Rauhofer, and Tomski. As part of the new special edition release of its parent album Behind The Sun, a new version of the song has been produced. Certain melodic elements that made the original so special, along with the vocals are there, however, this new version has a lot of dull, soulless electro sounds that just don't work. This rework is totally unnecessary. The original version and its accompanying remixes and even the 2004 updates are significantly better.

-Listen to the new version here (YouTube)

Grade: C- (for this remake) / A (for the original 2000 version)

November 26, 2013

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Ariana Grande - Right There (feat Big Sean)

The big voiced Pop princess' latest single has her collaborating with rapper Big Sean. This is another R&B/Pop throwback to the 90s. While the song isn't terribly exciting in its original version, it translates really nicely when remixed for the dancefloor by Dave Matthias, Ralphi Rosario, and 7th Heaven. Dave Matthias provides two vocal dubs which keep the vocals to a minimum, opting for an instrumental driven mix. 7th Heaven's mixes are soft, pretty, and piano-driven, complementing the vocals nicely. Ralphi Rosario's peak hour treatments are the best of the bunch.

Grade: A
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Guinevere - Ran For My Life (Remixes)

This is her latest single. The dubstep meets electro and a little trap song is her catchiest one to date. It's loads of fun and has an edge that her earlier singles have only touched upon briefly. The music video clearly inspired by The Walking Dead really makes this song.

There are some club remixes by Gustavo Scorpio, Koele Vaten, and Morten. Gustavo Scorpio's circuit, big room mix is the best of the bunch with it hard tribal drums and peak hour synths. Koele Vaten's aggressive electro mix is a bit edgier and more contemporary whereas Morten's has lots of cutup electro synth breaks interspersed between the vocals.

Listen to all of the mixes here:

-Purchase the original here (iTunes)
-Purchase the remixes here (Beatport)

Grade: A-
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Cher - Take It Like A Man (Remixes)

After part 1 came out earlier this month, the second set of remixes by DJ Paulo with Alain Jackinsky, JRMX, and Tony Moran with Joe Carrano were recently serviced to DJs.

Paulo and Jackinsky deliver some really dark and synthy mixes that recall Peter Rauhofer's work. JRMX's mainstream Dance/Pop mix is in a similar style as the 7th Heaven mix. Tony Moran and Joe Carrano deliver with some hard anthemic mixes. They arranged their mix in a way that has lots of peaks and valleys in the energy level to play up the drama at just the right times. Every mix on this second set is great.

Grade: A

November 21, 2013

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Bastille - Of The Night

This is the latest single from the Alternative Rock group from England. It will be appearing on the re-release of their Bad Blood album entitled All This Bad Blood. This song is unusual in that it is a midtempo mashup of two early 90s Eurodance classics. The chorus of SNAP!'s "Rhythm Is A Dancer" starts off the track then the subsequent verses and choruses are from Corona's "The Rhythm Of The Night." On paper, this sounds like it is a disaster in the making, but it all works beautifully. The songs take on a haunting, somber feel in this arrangement. The vocals are well-sung and the production is spot on. There are a bunch of remixes, however, the original is the best.

-Listen to the song here (YouTube)

Grade: A

November 19, 2013

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Sarah Blaine - Dance with the Devil

This is the latest single from the singer-songwriter. The song's lyrics are inspired by Napoleon Hill’s novel Outwitting the Devil. It's cut from the same cloth as Amber's "Yes!" which was based on James Joyce's Ulysses. This is an 80s synthpop meets contemporary Dance track that is super infectious with its hook, and the verses are just so well done. Sarah's voice is gorgeous too.

Listen and purchase here (iTunes)

Grade: A
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Celine Dion - Loved Me Back To Life (David Morales Mix)

The Sia penned big ballad has been well received by the chanteuse's fans all over the world. There have been some remixes by Dave Aude and Jump Smokers which made this suitable for the dancefloor. A remix competition was also held so producers could make their own mixes of the song. Many took advantage of this rare opportunity to remix the song. The legendary David Morales also remixed this and his mixes came out recently. He gives the song a softer, deep house treatment instead of a floorfilling anthem. This sounds more like an early evening or end of the night type of mix.

Listen here:

Grade: A

November 17, 2013

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Carlos Nóbrega – Breathe Me

This is indeed a cover of the tearjerker which was the soundtrack to the closing scene the series finale of HBO's Six Feet Under. The arrangement of this cover is quite faithful to the original, maintaining the haunting, somber tone. Carlos' vocals are really good on this. He does not stray that much from Sia's original in his delivery. This is one of the best remakes of the song.

-Watch the music video here (YouTube)
-Free download of the song from the artist here
-Like Carlos' Facebook fan page here

Grade: A-

November 15, 2013

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VELO feat Tascha Johnson - We Like To Party

What happens when an LMFAO styled song is mashed with a "Sexyback" sounding production? You get the energetic "We Like To Party." Produced by DJ Pistol & John Nold and written by both VELO and Tascha, this song is the perfect soundtrack to a night out or a house party. Included on the single are the main DJ Pistol versions which come in both a club and radio edit. DJ Javier Penna provides a nice alternate peak hour mix. This has the potential to be both a club and radio hit if given a proper push.

-Watch the music video directed by Alex Berry here (YouTube)
-Purchase the song here (iTunes)
-Like VELO's Facebook page here

Grade: A-
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Donna Summer - MacArthur Park 2013 (Rosabel Mixes)

This song was originally recorded by Richard Harris in 1968. Donna Summer covered the song in 1978 for her Live and More as part of the 17 minute "MacArthur Park Suite" which also contained "One Of A Kind" and "Heaven Knows". The exquisite cinematic production by Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte was a perfect match for Donna's pitch perfect, soaring vocals. The song was a number one hit and it remains one of Donna's most famous recordings.

The song was remixed by Laidback Luke for the Love To Love You Donna remix album released last month, however, he opted to use a limited amount of vocals. Celebrated production duo Rosabel (Abel Aguilera and Ralphi Rosario) have done additional mixes which are more vocal oriented. They wisely retain much of the soul of the original, keeping many of the instrumental elements and the vocals. The verses and choruses have been used, but sadly, the bridge has been omitted. The short single edit of the original did not have the bridge either so perhaps they did it based on that. Only the longer 7" mix and the "MacArthur Park Suite" have that. Their main club, mixshow, and radio edit are all based on the same production, just in differing lengths. Their Dark Dub however is an entirely different production bearing no resemblance to the other versions. It's a driving tribal production with some previously unheard spoken vocals by Donna as the focal point. Despite the omission of the bridge in the vocal mixes, the mixes are still excellent. The dub is really fun too.

Grade: A

November 14, 2013

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Harley & Muscle feat India - Then Came You

This set of new mixes of a song originally released 4 years ago by producers Harley & Muscle (aka William Cataldo & Flavio Romaniello) with vocalist India (of "Dancing On The Fire", "I Can't Get No Sleep", "Love & Happiness", "To Be In Love", and "Seduce Me" fame) that came out in late July, but it remained under the radar until recently. India delivers another knockout vocal performance. Her fiery belting style evokes memories of the late Disco diva Loleatta Holloway. Jonny Montana with Craig Stewart provide a marvelous set of mixes which are done in the classic Salsoul and Masters At Work style. All are beautifully orchestrated. They are for the most part in a similar style, but each have slightly different elements played up or played down. They are all great.

Listen to all of the mixes here:

-Purchase here (Beatport) and here (Traxsource)

Grade: A+
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Mariah Carey - The Art Of Letting Go

This is a new song from Mariah's upcoming album of the same name. The soft Quiet Storm sounding production provides the appropriate backdrop for this song which could possibly be summing up where Mariah is in her life right now. This is also a highly relatable song as many have gone through some of what she sings about. Mariah's vocals are stronger than they have been in a while and she lets loose with that upper part of her range at the end. While the song is well done overall, it does not feel like single material, feeling more like an album track, more specifically an album closer.

-Listen to the song here (YouTube)
-Purchase the song here (iTunes)

Grade: B+
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Byron Stingily - Back To Paradise

The soulful-voiced singer's latest release is another throwback to the heyday of classic House. Everything about the vocals is perfect from Byron's lead vocals to the backing harmonies, and of course Byron's high notes. The production by Frankie Knuckles on all 4 versions is divine as it recalls the Def Mix era. These versions are longer takes of the album version that appeared on his 1998 The Purist album that were made available for purchase this week.

-Listen to clips and buy here (Beatport)

Grade: A+

November 13, 2013

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Farley feat Debby Holiday - Fantasy (Remixes)

The remix package for the Eurohouse throwback club track has arrived! Joe Carrano provides several addition versions which have a different production from the previous club mix he did. His Peak Hour Dub is much harder and darker, and it makes use of less vocals but they are used strategically. The Instradub omits the vocals and serves as a great tease to the main club mix. The Percapella gives this song a different feel, letting Debby's glorious vocals be the focus. The Synthapella is really pretty. It actually could work well at the beginning or end of a set. The previously released club mix and edit plus the original versions have been included as well.

Listen to clips of all the version here:

Purchase the single here

Grade: A

November 11, 2013

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Lady Gaga - ARTPOP (Review)

This is the much-awaited 3rd album from the perpetually reinventing singer. Sexuality is the major theme of this album as evidenced by the preponderance of songs dedicated to that subject. Fame, materialism, lust, insecurity, and self-identity were major themes on previous albums, however, some of these do come up here.

Here is an overview of all the songs:

Things begin on a slightly sinister and mysterious note with the "Americano"-esque club track which originally leaked as a demo over the summer. The instrumental production is totally the same however the vocals have been re-recorded, losing some of the fun the original had.

The double entendre laden uptempo about the goddess of love and the planet is a bit messy in its structuring, though it has several great hooks within it.

This sexy electro midtempo is one of the standouts. It has the potential to be a single later on. The hook and pre-chorus are so infectious.

Sexxx Dreams
The provocative confessional midtempo recalls 90s Janet Jackson and Madonna with its naughty and playful vibe.

Jewels N' Drugs (feat. T.I., Too $hort and Twista)
This song is a bit of a departure from her usual as this song combines elements of electropop, trap, and hip hop creating an unusual blend that somehow works.

The Samantha Fox meets Phil Spector track about a man making everything better is enjoyable though it feels like one of the filler tracks from her debut.

Do What U Want (feat. R. Kelly) 
This is her latest Ace Of Base throwback that is two tons of fun. The intelligent lyrics and gorgeous vocals on this make it another standout. R. Kelly may seem like an unlikely collaborator for her, but it's perfect.

The Disco meets Hi Nrg "Dance In The Dark"-esque title track is delightful.

The most aggressively-produced song could be interpreted as being about those individuals Gaga encountered who tried to take advantage of her as she was coming up in the music industry.

The ode to fashion designer Donatella Versace is convivial though it is lyrically vapid and trite. There are loads of catchphrases in this one that should be just as ubiquitous as YOLO was last year.

The piano-based 80s inspired song is also seriously lacking in the lyric department, but it is fun.

Mary Jane Holland
The Eurodance referencing midtempo all about marijuana also suffers from some seriously cringe-inducing lines, but this will no doubt be a fan favorite when performed live.

A significantly different version of this was performed at the iTunes Festival under its original title "I Wanna Be With You." The Queen-inspired autobiographical song is about her overcoming addiction opting to go with love instead. The live version was much better overall, however, this is still pretty well done.

This uptempo Power Ballad features one of her greatest vocal performances to date. The lyrics are super relatable and this has the potential to be huge if it were a single later on.

The first single is an appropriate album closer, though it does not really go with the rest of the album.

This is overall a fun album, but it is not quite as cohesive as The Fame Monster or Born This Way, which did cover a variety of sounds and styles, but there was an underlying element that held it together that is noticeably missing here. "MANiCURE", "Donatella", and "Fashion!" end up being the weakest tracks of the bunch due to the lyrics and the production choices, but they are by no means terrible. The changed versions of "Aura" and "Dope" are a tad disappointing given how different the original versions were, but they are still good enough. "Gypsy", "G.U.Y", "Sexxx Dreams", "Do What U Want", and "Venus" are the best of the bunch.

There are plans to make additional tracks from the ARTPOP sessions available through a special app for use on tablets and smartphones. Other exclusive content to be announced will be made available through the app. There are also rumors that a second volume of ARTPOP containing more songs will be released later on.

The album is out today and is available for purchase at all digital music stores and most brick and mortar stores like Best Buy and Target. Walmart only has the edited edition of the album.

Grade: A-

November 9, 2013

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Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - Same Love (Cutmore Remixes)

The pro-same sex marriage themed song which was a timely hit this year has received some remixes by Cutmore. This song is an unlikely choice for a remix, however, Cutmore has approached this in a manner which reconciles the rap parts and Mary Lambert's hook into different tempos with the remix going back and forth a couple of times. Macklemore's rap parts are done at a lower tempo while the hook is at the higher one. The piano-based production is uplifting. The second verse has been omitted, possibly due to the use of a certain slur (used within the context of referencing it so it's not being used in an offensive manner), but it would have been nice had the verse been included.

Listen to the remix here (YouTube)

Grade: A- (would have been an A if it had the 2nd verse)

November 7, 2013

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Cher - Take It Like A Man (Remixes)

This is one of two singles that were released as a followup to "Woman's World." The Jake Shears-penned song is dripping with the camp and fun that is his work with the Scissor Sisters. It's a perfect dancefloor anthem for the ageless diva. This is one of the many highlights from the album. The first remix package includes mixes by 7th Heaven and Over The Top. 7th Heaven's fabulous mainstream, big room mix is so well done. The Over The Top mixes are in a similar vein as the original, but they have a subtle 80s Hi Nrg flavor which is so appropriate for a song such as this. Both sets of mixes are great.

-Listen to clips and purchase the remixes here (Amazon Germany)
(the U.S. store will have this next week)

Grade: A

November 5, 2013

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Neal Conway feat Taihisha - Don't Want To Lose (Remixes)

This is the second collaboration of the producer and singer. The soulful House track recalls the early 90s Def Mix era style of production which many long for these days. Taihisha's vocals are absolutely gorgeous. Nearly all of the remixes are in the same vein as the original with the exception of the Pure Elevation Crazy If You Left Dub, Pure Elevation Mix, and the DJ J'Shon Warped Mix. Some of them are a little harder, some have deeper bass, and some have some tribal elements. Although all 10 remixes are great, it's Joe Carrano's mix that is the best. This is a rare instance where all 10 remixes are enjoyable and well-produced.

Listen to clips and purchase here:

This release will be available at other digital retailers in 2 weeks.

Grade: A+

November 2, 2013

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Warren Nomi - Love Out Loud

This is a very special charity single that the Dance/Pop singer-songwriter has recorded for the purpose of donating proceeds to several organizations which help with anti-bullying efforts and suicide prevention. The song's message is very positive and uplifting. Warren's vocals are amazing as can be expected. The song has a strong 80s synthpop flavor coupled with contemporary Electro/Pop. It's a wonderful track.

Listen here:

Grade: A

November 1, 2013

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The Wanted - Word Of Mouth (Review)

This is the 3rd studio album from the British boyband best known for the hits "All Time Low", "Gold Forever", and "Glad You Came." This serves as their first proper album in the U.S. as only an EP containing a selection of songs from their first two albums and a couple of brand new songs was released. "Chasing The Sun", "I Found You", "Walks Like Rihanna", and "We Own The Night" have all been singles from the album in the U.S. Only "Chasing The Sun" and "We Own The Night" have performed moderately well. The former did better on the heels of the smash that was "Glad You Came." "We Own The Night" has failed to gain traction despite hovering in the 40s on the Mediabase CHR/Pop chart. "Show Me Love (America)" is the next single. All the singles have gone top 10 in the UK though.

This album was in the works from 2012 up until just a few weeks ago. The release dates for the album were announced as early as last Fall and then moved to the Winter, and then delayed to the Spring, and now its finally here after additional pushbacks due to "We Own The Night" unexpectedly being slow to grow. "Show Me Love (America)" is the next single. A number of collaborations with Justin Bieber, LMFAO, Rihanna, and Rita Ora were announced as possibly happening for this album, but none of them came to fruition and the album has no collaborations.

The album is fairly cohesive given that there are nearly a dozen producers. It consists of some midtempos, traditional and electronic ballads, and adult contemporary Pop/Rock. The album goes back and forth between the styles without a clear sequence. The U.S. and UK editions share 15 of the main tracks, however, the U.S. one omits "Chasing The Sun", "Satellite", "Only You", and "Read My Mind", opting to include "Glad You Came" instead. It's odd that "Chasing The Sun" and "Satellite" were removed because both were on the U.S. exclusive EP last year, and the former was a moderately successful single. The group's vocals on all of the songs are great, showing some growth from their last album. The lyrics are reasonably good, however, those expecting something revolutionary will be disappointed.

"Could This Be Love", "Running Out Of Reasons", "Glow In The Dark", "If We're Alright", "Drunk On Love", "Only You", and "Satellite" are the highlights along with previous singles "Chasing The Sun", "I Found You", "We Own The Night", and "Show Me Love (America)." The weakest tracks are "Walks Like Rihanna" and "Summer Alive", with the former sticking out like a sore thumb with its juvenile and cheeky lyrics, the latter sounding like the generic EDM that is all over radio these last few years. Thankfully, the two weak tracks are the only ones and it can be forgiven due to so many of the others being so well done.

  • Buy the U.S. Deluxe Edition here 
  • Buy the UK Deluxe Edition here
    Please note that the U.S. and UK editions are slightly different 

Grade: A-

October 30, 2013

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Charlotte - Somebody's Baby (Peter Rauhofer Remixes)

The singer-songwriter is best known for the club hits "Skin", "Someday", and "Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark." This song appeared on her debut album which remains unreleased in the U.S. These previously unheard, unreleased remixes by Peter Rauhofer, who passed away earlier this year were made available yesterday for the first time. It is unknown exactly when these mixes were completed, but based on the overall sound and style of them, it was reportedly between 1998 and 2000. Peter worked with Eric Kupper on these gorgeous Garage/House mixes. Charlotte delivers a spirited vocal performance which goes perfectly with the production.

Listen to clips of the 2 mixes here:

The acapella was also released earlier this year as part of Nervous Accapellas Vol 6

Grade: A+

October 28, 2013

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Jonas Oakland - What Happens On The Dancefloor (Stays On The Dancefloor)

This is the latest single from the Swedish Dance/Pop recording artist. This new one channels the edgy contemporary Electro/Pop style that Ke$ha and Lady Gaga are known for, however he puts his own spin on it. The result is an ultra infectious song that is perfect for the dancefloor and radio. Perhaps this one could get him noticed internationally.

Listen to the song here:

Grade: A-
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Thema Houston & JANITOR - FORTYTWO (EP)

This brand new EP is the collaboration of R&B/Disco singer Thelma Houston (of "Don't Leave Me This Way" and "Saturday Night, Sunday Morning" fame) and eclectic producer JANITOR. It features 5 exquisitely produced and well-written songs in different styles. "Enemy" is a soulful Quiet Storm, R&B slow jam while "Landlover" is a rollicking Disco number. The 80s synthpop midtempo "The Surreal Deal" is stunning. "Colorblind" has an authentic Punk Rock band flavor. The soft R&B "When The Party's Over" is the perfect EP closer. Thelma's vocals are incredible form on all the songs. This is an essential listen for anyone looking for something thoughtful and eclectic.

-The EP may be previewed and purchased here (iTunes)

Grade: A

October 26, 2013

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Thaea - Dance Until I'm Free

Thaea is all set to make her proper debut on the music scene with this catchy club track. Though she can in an operatic style as she did on "Genesis", she can also sing in a traditional style, and she sounds amazing. Produced by Joe Carrano, the song is perfect for both the clubs and radio. The EDM mixes are more big room oriented while the USA mix has a Rock edge to it. Both are extremely well done.

-Listen to clips and purchase here (iTunes) or here for DJ friendly lossless files (Beatport)

Grade: A

October 25, 2013

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Deborah Cox feat Paige - Higher (Remixes)

Nearly 7 months after the original versions were released, some new remixes were released today. Carlos Melange, Chris Staropoli (aka That Kid Chris), Dave Rose & Dimitri Tee, DJ Escape & Tony Coluccio, and Paige provide the new mixes. The Carlos Melange mix is a big room Electro/House style that is rather noisy, focusing on lots of buildups and breakdowns. Chris Staropoli's Moroder-esque tribal mix has a subtle 80s feel. Dave Rose & Dimitri Tee's piano-based Electro mix is uplifting and mainstream. DJ Escape & Tony Coluccio's hard mixes are the strongest of the package, utilizing all of the fantastic vocals. They give the song everything it needs to be an anthem. Both the vocal and dub mixes are well done. Rounding out the package is Paige's own new 'Resurrection' mix which is a much harder, synthier take on the original version.

-Listen to clips and purchase here (iTunes)

Grade: A

October 22, 2013

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Katy Perry - Prism (Review)

This is the highly anticipated 3rd studio album serving as the followup to the massive Teenage Dream which spawned 7 consecutive hit singles. This album was reportedly meant to be much darker and introspective when it was first conceptualized, however, the darker elements have been toned down.

Here is an overview of each track:

Roar The #1 hit in which she tells her lover that she will be fine and be stronger than ever on her own opens things up setting the tone for the album clearly inspired by the breakup of her brief marriage to Russell Brand.

Legendary Lovers Things slow down just a little with the exotic Middle Eastern and Indian flavored song. The sensual tabla breakdown in the middle is so hot.

Birthday The innuendo heavy song is classic Katy. This is what "Hummingbird Heartbeat" was for her last album. All the little zingers on the midtempo are very cute.

Walking On Air Taking cues from 90s House music, this one is so very delightful, and speaks of the giddiness one can feel while in love.

Unconditionally A gorgeous powerballad that Jim Steinman would be proud of comes next showcasing a knockout vocal performance from Katy.

Dark Horse The psychedelic Hip Hop track is the only collaboration on the album. The otherworldly feel of the song is really exciting.

This Is How We Do The 80s inspired Synthpop midtempo is two tons of fun with the catchy chorus and delicious bubblegummy production.

International Smile Continuing the 80s trend is a song that could have easily been on Madonna's Like A Virgin album. The "ooh uh ooh" backing vocals in the verses are so pretty.

Ghost The "Bette Davis Eyes" styled midtempo gives the public and fans some insight into the breakup of her marriage: it happened via text message.

Love Me The standard Adult Contemporary fare ends up being the weakest song on the album despite the solid production and vocals.

This Moment The "Such A Shame" styled track also does not live up to its full potential. It feels really middle of the road.

Double Rainbow Things get back on track with this gorgeous ballad. This is easily one of her best vocal performances to date.

By The Grace Of God The stunning tearjerker ballad talks of initially contemplating suicide but ultimately deciding not to go through with it because of a savior helping them through difficult circumstances may resonate with some who have been in similar situations before or are possibly going through something like that right now.

Spiritual The Alanis Morissette-esque midtempo is the perfect next track to the heavier track that came before it.

It Takes Two This Pop/Rock midtempo about the dynamics of a relationship, possibly Katy and John Mayer's current one is rather thought provoking.

Choose Your Battles Things close on a bittersweet note with another song about relationships.

This is a strong collection of songs, however, the album does not really flow all that well as whole as there are so many different styles of music represented. The placement of "Unconditionally" is really odd in the first half of the album whereas the 3 bonus tracks also feel like they don't belong at the end. The latter two would have been more effective in place of "Love Me" and "This Moment" which are easily two of the weakest songs. The lyrics on nearly all of the songs are anywhere from good to incredible. None are cringe-worthy or lazy. The production sounds contemporary despite all the 80s and 90s throwbacks which are a nice break from the ubiquitous EDM sound that is all over radio right now. Those longing for the 80s and 90s might enjoy this. The album is full of great single choices. "Dark Horse", "Legendary Lovers", "Walking On Air", "By The Grace Of God", and "Spiritual" are some of the obvious ones.

Listen to the album here:

Purchase the album here (iTunes)

Grade: A-

October 20, 2013

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Lady Gaga feat R Kelly - Do What You Want

This is the first iTunes countdown single from her highly anticipated ARTPOP album due out next month. This is NOT the next single from the album ("Venus" is). The pairing of Lady Gaga and R. Kelly may seem like an unusual one given their drastically different styles of music, but somehow it all works perfectly. Their vocal styles complement one another. The early 90s Ace Of Base sound previously heard in her own "Alejandro" is present here along with a bit of 80s R&B and Freestyle, yet this all sounds so fresh. This song is featured in the new Dre Beats commercials airing on TV networks all over the U.S. There are no plans to make this a single, but this is begging to be one eventually.

-Listen to the song here (YouTube)
-Buy the song here (iTunes)

Grade: A
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Kelly Clarkson - Underneath The Tree

This is the first single from the first American Idol winner's new Holiday album. The original song is festive and joyous, recalling the glory days of Phil Spector. Everything about the song is so perfect from the lyrics to Kelly's flawless vocals. This song has the potential to become a beloved modern classic in the way Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You" did nearly 2 decades back. This is absolutely wonderful!

-Listen to the song here (YouTube)

Grade: A+
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Chicane feat Duane Harden - One More Time

Taking a page from Avicii's recent hit single "Wake Me Up" which also incorporates a Country style banjo and Electronic music, "One More Time" is in a similar vein. Duane Harden (of "You Don't Know Me" and "What You Need" fame) provides the few soulful vocals. It is mostly instrumental with just a few vocal drops. In addition to the dubby original is the slightly similar Disco Citizens mix which is a bit more accessible and clearer sounding. The Andi Durrant & Steve More mix is extremely noisy and it adds absolutely nothing of note to the song.

-Buy the song here (iTunes)

Listen to the song here:

Grade: A-
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Katy Perry - Unconditionally

This is the second official single from Prism. The universal power ballad is every bit as epic as the early reviews have said it was. The theme of loving someone unconditionally will resonate with almost everyone everywhere. Overall, Katy sounds amazing on this. She really shines on songs with minimal productions. With other big ballads such as Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" doing well right now, this should have no trouble either.

For those wanting an uptempo version, Country Club Martini Crew has done a remix which gives the song everything it needs to be appropriate for the dancefloor while maintaining the overall soul of the song.

-Watch the lyric video here (YouTube)
-Listen to the Country Club Martini Crew remix here (Soundcloud)

Grade: A
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Tamar Braxton - Love And War (Danny Verde Remix)

The remix by Danny Verde of the lead single from the album of the same name has finally been made available to the public in some form. Nearly 3 singles have been released in the time since this song was a single. A preview of the remix was warmly received, however, the remix remained unreleased until earlier this week. The big room anthem mix is fitting for the ballad. Danny's driving production is superb.

-Listen to the Danny Verde remix and download it here (Soundcloud)

Grade: A

October 17, 2013

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Donna Summer - Love To Love You Donna

This is the first posthumous release for the Queen Of Disco. It is a collection of brand new remixes that were produced just for this collection. This collection only covers a limited part of Donna's multi-decade career, but it focuses on the most important time when she had a string of hits.

Here is an overview of each track:

Love To Love You Baby (feat. Chris Cox) [Giorgio Moroder Remix]
This orgasmic odyssey clocking at almost 17 minutes in its original version back in the day is re-imagined in an "I Feel Love" aesthetic by Giorgio Moroder and Chris Cox. Despite the production being re-arranged as much as it has, the sensuality quotient is still very high. This song is every bit as erotic as it was in 1975.

Dim All the Lights (Duke Dumont Remix)
It is a shame that this one only uses so few vocals because the production was rather promising. It basically loops the same line over and over for much of it.

Hot Stuff (Frankie Knuckles & Eric Kupper As Director's Cut Signature Mix)
This song's Disco meets Rock production is appropriately minimized in this 90s House rework which incorporates a few key instrumental flourishes and hooks from the original, however, the Rock elements are sorely missed.

I Feel Love (Afrojack Remix)
One of the most influential songs in all of Dance/Electronic music has been updated ever so slightly picking up the tempo, but the soul of the song and that signature arpeggio hook that has been sampled and ripped off countless times is left intact. There have been a number of remixes of this song over the years which strayed too far and left much to be desired. This is one of the best mixes of the song ever done other than the Rollo & Sister Bliss one from 1995.

Love Is In Control (Finger On the Trigger) [Chromeo & Oliver Remix]
While certain melodies from the original were kept, this mix ends up sounding far more dated than it should.

Sunset People (Hot Chip Dub Edit)
The Disco vibe of the original is maintained though the tempo is lowered just a little. This would have worked better as a full vocal mix.

Working the Midnight Shift (Holy Ghost! Remix)
The Once Upon A Time album track is reinvented in a Kevin Saunderson/Inner City style. The industrial sound of the original is there too, just changed up a bit.

Bad Girls (Gigamesh Remix)
The song from the double album of the same name about the ladies of the evening is given an 80s synthpop styled reworking. The Disco/Rock vibe of the original has been entirely stripped away.

MacArthur Park (Laidback Luke Remix) [Instrumental Version]
It's puzzling why the instrumental was put on the standard edition instead of the vocal mix which is on the deluxe edition. It's a good instrumental, but the vocals really bring it home.

I Feel Love (Benga Remix)
After the amazing Afrojack mix, this one is totally unnecessary. There are hardly any vocals and the few teases of the original that are there just don't work.

On the Radio (Jacques Greene Remix)
The remix of this evergreen classic just sucks out all of the fun that the original had. The effects on the vocals make them sound so distant.

Last Dance (Masters At Work Remix) [Short Version]
The classic closing song at any club was already cinematic and over the top in all of the right ways, but this remix lacks the power and urgency that the original had. The orchestral elements that are there from the original feel out of place with the watered down production.

La Dolce Vita
This previously unreleased, unleaked song seems out of place on this collection because every other song has been released before in some fashion. It's a great track and sounds fairly modern courtesy of Giorgio Moroder's forward-thinking productions, but it would be more at home on a collection of Donna's unreleased songs (and there are possibly hundreds of those!).

Our Love (Krystal Klear Remix) [Bonus Track]
This one has been re-imagined as a soulful House track with a hint of electro in the bassline.

MacArthur Park (Laidback Luke Remix)
This should have been on the standard edition in place of the instrumental version. This one maintains the melody of the dramatic original which was in that epic "MacArthur Park Suite", adding some new bells and whistles, and of course some noisy electro buildups. This is still pretty decent.

Bad Girls (Boys Noize Club Mix)
This cut up rework is also unnecessary as it feels so messy and noisy.

Sunset People (Hot Chip Re-Edit)
This longer version of the mix on the standard edition is good for the clubs, but it might be too much for some listening at home unless one is into this sort of thing.

Overall, this remix collection ends up being rather disappointing with more than half of the mixes being underwhelming due to questionable production choices and the handling of the vocals. Cutting out 90% of the vocals and using just a fraction of them is not appropriate for someone like Donna. Her songs are meant to be heard with all the verses, choruses, bridge, and ad libs that made her originals so loved and memorable. The clear standouts of this collection are the Giorgio Moroder & Chris Cox mix of "Love To Love You Baby", the Afrojack mix of "I Feel Love", the Director's Cut mix of "Hot Stuff", the Laidback Luke mix of "MacArthur Park" (with the vocals), the Gigamesh mix of "Bad Girls", and the Holy Ghost! mix of "Working The Midnight Shift". 

Purchase the Deluxe Edition here (iTunes)

Grade: C
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Cazwell - No Selfie Control

Rapper Cazwell is known for his sometimes outrageous and humorous songs, videos, and performances. This song is a biting commentary on selfies (the act of taking a photo of oneself on their smartphone) and the subsequent posting of the photos on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Vine. He half raps, half sings the song that most of could relate to over an instrumental bearing a striking resemblance to Daft Punk's massive hit "Get Lucky." The accompanying music video features Cazwell taking selfies in various states of undress. This song is lots of fun.

-Watch the music video here (YouTube)
-Buy the song and music video here (iTunes)

Grade: A-

October 14, 2013

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George Benson - Give Me The Night (DJ Meme Remix)

The Jazz great originally released this Disco/Funk track in 1980. It is one of his most successful recordings, and has gone on to be sampled and covered countless times, most notably by Randy Crawford (with superb remixes by Mousse T) and Xavier (with a fun mix by the Freemasons). DJ Meme has revisited this classic in a light, soulful House style which is close to the original, but updated just enough. It is available to download for a limited time.

Grade: A

October 6, 2013

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Clara LoFaro - Born To Love You

This is the singer-songwriter's latest single. Despite being largely unknown to the masses, her music has appeared in movies, TV shows, and TV ads. Her vulnerable meets powerful vocal style calls to mind the voices of Anastacia, Billie Ray Martin, and Dido. The Pop/Rock song has a captivating sensuality quality. It has all the makings of a big hit, if only PDs and MDs would take notice of this gem.

Chris Cox has done some club mixes of the song which retain the Pop/Rock atmosphere of the original while making it a little more uptempo for the dancefloor.

-Watch the original video here (YouTube)
-Watch the Chris Cox remix video here (YouTube)
-Purchase the original here (iTunes)

Grade: A
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Miley Cyrus - Wrecking Ball (Nick Harvey remix)

The second single from her new album Bangerz already went to number one recently after it had massive airplay, sales, and views of its controversial music video directed by Terry Richardson. The emotional power ballad produced by Dr. Luke showcases the Hannah Montana stars vocals brilliantly. It is easily one of her best songs and singles.

There have been countless bootlegs and uncommissioned club mixes of the song making the rounds, however, the best one has been produced by Nick Harvey. He delivers the quintessential anthem mix of the song, incorporating a massive synth riff reminiscent of the one found in the End All remix by Peter Bailey and Richie Santana of "The Lover That You Are". Miley's vocals soar over the epic production.

Listen to the mix and download it here:

Grade: A

October 3, 2013

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Christina Aguilera - We Remain

This song was recorded specifically for the 2nd Hunger Games movie. The midtempo ballad is very much in the same vein as some of Christina's own Stripped era sound. While she has been known to showcase her vocal prowess on her ballads, she chooses to hold back on this and delivers a more subdued, softer vocal. There are a few parts where she appears to be straining, but that may be intentional given the subject matter of the movie.

-Listen to the song here (YouTube)

Grade: A-

September 29, 2013

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Katy Perry - Walking On Air

This is the second track from the Prism iTunes countdown ("Dark Horse" was the first one). Katy takes inspiration from the 90s handbag House genre, fusing the classic style with today's sensibilities. The uptempo is two tons of fun with its happy production and carefree vocals. This is begging to be a single from the album. This will be huge on the dancefloors into the next year, and maybe beyond. Despite the comparisons to similar sounding songs like Kylie Minogue's "Get Outta My Way" and Kelly Clarkson's "Catch My Breath" (the chord progressions are nearly identical during the chorus), this manages to stand apart from those.

-Listen to a clip and purchase here (iTunes)

Grade: A
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Justin Timberlake - The 20/20 Experience Volume 2 (Review)

Nearly 6 months after the first volume of The 20/20 Experience was released is the second one. This was recorded in the same sessions as the first. This is meant to be the 'other side' of the first volume showcasing a slightly darker sound. The concept of suite-styled tracks with extended sections, breaks and attached interludes has been employed here as well.

Here is an overview of each song:

Gimme What I Don’t Know (I Want) Things start off on an uptempo note with a Prince-esque Hip Hop and Funk toetapper.

True Blood The vampirism-oriented song with obvious Prince and Michael Jackson influences is super catchy and would make for an excellent single and video. The floorshaking bass and drums of the Disco/Tribal hybrid are red hot. Vincent Price's maniacal laughter heard at the end of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" is so appropriately sampled.

Cabaret (feat. Drake) This midtempo Hip Hop track is an ode to strippers and strip clubs. Drake brings the sleaze that such a song would have.

TKO The suggestive second single keeps the momentum going of the previous two tracks.

Take Back The Night The Disco and R&B number failed to gain traction as a lead single though within the context of the album, it fits perfectly. It serves as a closing to the 'first act'.

Murder (feat. Jay Z) The Bollywood-esque jam isn't about the crime, but about a killer woman. This has single potential.

Drink You Away The midtempo Country/Rock/Hip Hop/Pop track is quite the departure soundwise, but it all works. It's the "What Comes Around..." Of this album. This is delightful.

You Got It On The synthpop meets quiet storm midtempo is so smooth.

Amnesia This has a similar vibe as "Mirrors" from part 1. The layered harmonies on this are exquisite.

Only When I Walk Away Justin lets out his inner rockstar with this Rod Stewart-esque song.

Not A Bad Thing The guitar-driven pop track has a delightful carefree vibe.

Pair Of Wings This is a hidden track attached to "Not A Bad Thing." The haunting track with just a guitar accompanying Justin's vocals is amazing.

These next two are from the special Target edition:

Blindness The Jason Mraz-ish groover has a fun summery vibe.

Electric Lady The catchy clubbanger is strong enough to be on the standard edition and be a single. Justin's pitch-shifted rap section recalls Prince's alter ego Camille from the late 80s which employed a similar technique.

Timbaland produced all the songs here just as he did with part 1 and for the most part it sounds pretty fresh. The overall vibe of this second album is far more cohesive than on part 1. The songs on this volume are much stronger. Only a couple of the songs feel like they are a minute or two too long ("True Blood" would have worked better if it were about 1.5 minutes shorter as the coda at the end doesn't add anything to the song). This one ends up having great commercial potential with "True Blood", "Amnesia", "Murder", "Drink You Away", "Only When I Walk Away", and "Not A Bad Thing" being obvious single choices, all with proper radio edits of course.

The album will be released on September 30. Volume 2 will be available on its own in both a standard edition and a special edition sold exclusively through Target with "Blindness" and "Electric Lady" as the bonus tracks. A special combined edition with both volumes 1 and 2 will be available as well. A vinyl edition is planned as well.

Grade: A
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Katy Perry feat Juicy J - Dark Horse (CCMC Remixes)

This is not an official single yet as it is from her iTunes countdown, however, there are some club mixes by Country Club Martini Crew. The slow groover has been turned into a hot floorfiller. The big room Electro House mixes change up the vibe of the original which was more laidback. All of the vocals including Juicy J's rap are incorporated into the main versions. Only the Extended version skips the second verse, though the Full Vocal version and edit have them all. These are really awesome.

Listen to the mix here:

Grade: A

September 27, 2013

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Michael M - Star (Remixes)

Taken from the It's Just Me EP released a few months ago, the remix package for "Star" is here. The fame themed song is fun mixture of Punk and Electro. Michael's vocals have been given a cool robotic effect. The main version produced by Oba Frank Lords is hard and driving. Danny G, Jrny, and QBA provide the additional mixes. Danny G's groovy, euphoric big room mix makes the song perfect for mainstream sets, and maybe Pop radio as Dance music has been everywhere lately. Jrny's mix with twisted filter effects has afterhours written all over it. QBA's techy tribal mix is also suitable for peakhour and afterhours sets. The acapella is also included for those who wish to layer this over other tracks or do their own remix. Also included is the Stable Mate mix of "Pulsar" which is a cinematic 80s sounding track. The original and Danny G mixes are the best of the bunch along with the bonus track "Pulsar."

-Listen to clips and purchase the single here (iTunes)

Grade: A-

September 26, 2013

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Lisa Stansfield - Can't Dance

The soulful singer from the UK is back with her first new album entitled Seven. The song is a return to the lush Disco/R&B sound she was known for at the beginning of her career. It sounds like it is from the late 70s. Lisa delivers a strong vocal, sounding exactly as she did back in the day. The song is so catchy and fun. It is begging for a nice extended mix. Hopefully she will re-connect with some of veterans who remixed her so well in the past.

Listen to the song here (YouTube)

Grade: A
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