An avid pop music fan from the Beatles to Kylie Minogue. I'm fascinated with the recording industry and the Billboard charts. I love doing album and concert reviews. I have a fascination with all things British, and the dance/pop scene in Europe. Illustrator and photographer too visit my site at www.philfogel.com
Many artists do cover songs but it really annoys me when American singers cover recent British hits. So much great British music goes unnoticed in North America. It’s a good strategy to cover a hit unheard of in the USA, but I would rather the original artist get the credit. Jessica Simpson's ex Nick Lachey new single is "Patience". The song is a cover of Take That’s big #1 comeback song. It won a Brit awards for the quartet as best single last year. It’s not like Nick put a new twist on the song it’s very similar, but it doesn’t come off as genuine as when it's sung by it’s songwriter, Take That’s lead singer Gary Barlow. You be the judge.
The new number one song in the USA and the UK is Lady Gaga's "Just Dance". Who you ask? Her real name Joanne Stefani Germanotta she’s a 22 year old singer/songwriter from New York City. She has written songs for the Pussycats Dolls, Britney Spears and New Kids On The Block. She considers herself a performance and visual artist sighting Andy Warhol for inspiration.
The record is so European sounding that I was shocked to find out she is American. Has electronic dance music finally conquered the North American market? Gaga definitely knows how to write a pop song with hooks and melodies that drag you right in. Her influences are David Bowie and Queen (her name was chosen from their hit "Radio Gaga"), but aside from the title track I don’t hear the influence on her record which is mostly heavy club and dance rhythms. I have to admit I was first put off by "Just Dance" and her new song "Poker Face" which I found annoying but the album is quite solid. My favourite tracks are the slower jams "Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)", "Paparazzi", "Summerboy" and "Boys, Boys, Boys" her ode to Mötley Crüe's hit "Girls, Girls, Girls". Her version could well become a gay anthem. "Paper Gangsta" has a great melody and a driving keyboard line throughout the song that is just delicious, it reminds me a bit of Mika, the lyrics “Sometimes I felt so Def in the Jam”, “don’t want no paper gangsta won’t sign no monkey papers I don’t do funny business not interested in fakers” could the song be about her record deal with Def Jam that fell apart?
The only odd song is the ballad "Brown Eyes" which seems lost on the record. It looks like I have my first entry for top albums of 2009.
The Billboard charts and playlists of 2008 were dominated by R&B and rap artists like Chris Brown, Lil Wayne and TI but it saw an insurgence of dance and pop music. Acts like Kate Perry (I Kissed A Girl), Pink, Natasha Bedingfield and as I'm writing this, Britney Spears (Circus) and Lady Gaga (Just Dance) are charting in the top 5 of the Billboard Hot 100. The women kept dominating with newcomer Leona Lewis, Mariah Carey, Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift and left over from last year Rihanna. Unfortunately my favourite diva Kylie Minogue couldn't break out from Europe and land a hit across the ocean. (For those wondering her album X is listed in my top list from last year). Madonna teamed up with Justin Timberlake and had only 4 Minutes to save the world. Coldplay came back with a huge 1 and the teeny boppers went wild for the Jonas Brothers. Unfortunately some of my favourite albums didn't impact the charts, Donna Summer and Cyndi Lauper put out stellar albums and my favourite of the year Robyn had minor success in the USA. All in all not a bad year lets hope the charts keep getting more diversified in 2009.
Top Albums of 2008
One of the best pop dance album's of the new millennium, every song is ace. I love the fact that Robyn remembers to incorporate beautiful melodies to back up her beats from Be Mine, Crash and Burn Girl and Bum Like You. Who can sit down with tracks like Handle Me, Who's That Girl and the 1 smash With Every Heartbeat. If you want something different try Cobrastyle and Konichiwa Bitches. This is how you make a great pop album. 9.5/10
02 Pocketful of Sunshine--Natasha Bedingfield
If at first you don't succeed…the album is actually a hybrid of best songs (Soulmate, Backyard) from her previous UK album "NB" and adds 7 urban funky tunes for the US market. From the uplifting top 5 title track to Put Your Arms Around Me Natasha delivers a great pop album. She has a beautiful voice and sings with affection and emotion. Natasha knows how to string lyrics into modern poetry that sound more sophisticated then just a pop song. Check out the adorable Freckles or the haunting Pirate Bones. 9/10
03 Departure-- Jesse McCartney
I never thought I would buy a Jesse McCartney album, I had no idea who he was. The skinny white kid delivers an R & B album better then some of his black contemporaries. From the top ten hit Leavin' to the beautiful ballad Not Your Enemy he's like a modern Michael Jackson check out Running Away. Best tracks are How Do You Sleep, My Baby and Relapse which are screaming to be hits, I can't get enough of them. Even when he slows the groove down on Into Ya, Makeup or I Told You So he hits the mark. 9/10
04 Hard Candy--Madonna
I thought I would hate this album but it's not that bad. My biggest criticism is that hot producers Timbaland and Pharell overpower the songs with too many beats and unnecessary raps like Kanye West on The Beat Goes On, I much prefer the demo version which has more lyrics. Best songs are She's Not Me, the Justin Timberlake duet 4 Minutes, and Miles Away again less production would have been better. It's not her best album but it's not her worst that title goes to American Life and Bedtime Stories. 8.5/10
05 Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends--Coldplay
My first Coldplay album, I had a hard time placing it in the top ten. I absolutely fell in love with the song Viva La Vida when I saw the Ipod commercial for the first time. Unfortunately the rest of the album doesn't sound much like it. Best songs are Violet Hill, Strawberry Swing and the Instrumental first track Life In Technicolor, I wonder why they didn't put lyrics to it? Coldplay are an acquired taste some of the song are a bit too slow for me. 8.5/10
06 Crayons--Donna Summer
Her record label wanted her to do covers but Donna refused and lucky for us because she produced and wrote a kick ass dance album. From Stamp Your Feet to I'm A Fire Donna shows us why she is Queen on the dancefloor. Fame (The Games) sounds modern and 80's cool all at the same time, she dabbles into a bit of Reggae with the title track and Driving Down To Brazil . Be sure to pick up the Circuit City edition which has the bonus track It's Only Love a throw back to her's 70's groove. 8/10
07 Bring Ya To The Brink--Cyndi Lauper
Cyndi hooks up with European producers to delivers a non stop dance album with a 70's and 80's retro flavour. Song like Into The Nightlife, Set Your Heart and my favorite Same Old Story will keep you pumping on the floor till the last call. 8/10
08 Spirit-- Leona Lewis
The winner of UK 's X-Factor (their version of Idol), the mega single Bleeding Love and a push by Simon Cowell proved to be a huge success. She has a great voice and could be the next Whitney or Mariah. Best tracks are Better In Time and the upbeat Forgive Me. The rest of the album falls into the usual R & B fluff you hear on the radio. Only time will tell if she lasts or fades into obscurity. 7.5/10
09 Delta-- Delta Goodrem
Australian singer/songwriter's 3rd album. Best tracks are the piano power ballad InThis Life, Believe Again, and God Laughs. Delta tries to dance it up with You Will Only Break My Heart but she's best at the slow tracks. The USA version contains her 1 smash hit Born To Try from her first album. 7.5/10
I know the album was released in late 2007 and they have a new one out now but I only discovered this CD recently and I haven't bought the current one. Despite going though many Changes the girls deliver a really fun pop album. From the 1 smash About You Now to my favorite Denial they know how to produce pop. Other great tracks include Back When, Changes, and My Love Is Pink. 7.5/10
Singles of the year
01 Viva La Vida Coldplay 02 In My Arms Kylie Minogue 03 Bleeding Love Leona Lewis 04 The One Kylie Minogue 05 Pocketful Of Sunshine Natasha Bedingfield 06 With Every Heartbeat Robyn 07 4 Minutes Madonna & Justin Timberlake 08 Who's That Girl Robyn 09 War On War Sam Harris 10 Wow Kylie Minogue 11 In This Life Delta Goodrem 12 Leavin' Jesse McCartney 13 Believe Again Delta Goodrem 14 Denial Sugababes