The Early Bird: Top New Record Releases 1-10-20 – 1-16-20 Reviewed
With a sense of impending doom we arrive at Selena Gomez’s Rare, her sixth album and more songs about breaking up and moving along without muscle bound twink Justin Bieber. Both singles were resolutely horrid, “Lose You To Love Me” a big hit was feel good songs for 20 somethings with nothing to feel good about. But we have already heard the low points and everything else (including the title track) is excellent: the list is as long as your arm of producers suggests it might suffer from the cookie cutter world of bright pop that has hurt Taylor Swift, but it is a unique self-portrait and a very pleasant surprise. Selena has been in entertainment since she was ten years old (on “Barney And Friends”) and while her experience isn’t ours, it is fascinating and interesting (Grade: B+). The other biggie of the week is Beach Slang meets Tommy Stinson’s The Deadbeat Bang Of Heartbreak City, a gritty, hard hitting ‘Mats like rocker of an album which might appear to be a rip off, maybe, right? Maybe and sure it sounds maybe a little too close to the originals, but if you don’t wanna hear songs that sound like “I Will Dare” (not to mention Westerberg’s “Knocking On Mine”) what, precisely, do you want? (Grade: B+).
But the albums are still trickling their way out while the singles are already here, I have EIGHTY SINGLES awaiting my column in a coupla days, and some of them more than do the job. Let’s start with the Ozzy Osbourne self-portrait “Ordinary Man” featuring Elton John who plays a beautiful piano on the oh alright snoozer (Grade: B-); Sia has come down from LSD and her first solo recording since, seriously, if you ignore the Christmas album, 2016, is the excellent pop plus beats “Original” (Grade: B+), Khalid is slow and boring on the mumbling sung “Eleven” (Grade: C), Drake and Future have been making noise about their first collaboration since 2015, and the first result is here and it is first rate, “Life Is Good” opens with great Drake sing sung verses and continues with Future he sounds like he has just taken a hit of cough syrup (in other words awesome) (Grade: A-), I invited a teen niece to go see Halsey with me at Pier 17 and she said she’d prefer Post Malone, still the acoustic smackdown (“I’m so glad I never had a baby with you”… ouch) “You Should Be Sad” is her best work in three years and the break is glorious (Grade: B+), they say you shouldn’t speak bad of the dead though it seems to me as the dead is the first things you should speak bad of, Mac Miller was never my first choice (or second), “Good News” is an r&b sing speak, not bad, not good, very dead (Grade: C+), Megan Thee Stallion and Normani got together for a song off the upcoming movie “Birds Of Prey,” “Diamonds” and it is nothing much, even Megan sounds a little distracted and the “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend” sampling means they expect the song will snap up the charts… maybe (Grade: B-). Two of the most boring people on earth, together. Well, not together really, separately. Alicia Keys “Underdog” is a typical 21st century sound for her, meaning she adds hip hop beats (Grade: C), John Legend’s atrocious “Conversations In The Dark” is a slow and scary middle of the road bore (Grade: C-).
OKay, one more single. Celeste, a UK soul singer with a tremendous voice, just won BBC Music’s Sound of 2020. If the BBC mean that Celeste sound will influence, or be indicative, of 2020, I sincerely doubt it as “Stop This Flame” could have been released , really, any year since the mid-1970s (Grade: B)
Underdog – Alicia Keys – C
The Deadbeat Bang Of Heartbreak City – Beach Slang – B+
Stop This Flame – Celeste – B
Life Is Good – Drake, Future – A-
You Should Be Sad – Halsey – B+
Conversations In The Dark – John Legend – C-
Eleven – Khalid – C
Good News – Mac Miller – C+
Diamonds – Megan Thee Stallion, Normani – B-
Ordinary Man – Ozzy Osbourne – B-
Rare – Selena Gomez – B+
Original – Sia – B+