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-
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