Female Singers R Us

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Top Five Criminally Ignored Diva Albums of 2010:

This list has been a long time coming- yes I'm aware its practically 2012- but it's only now that I've found the time to finish this post. So FINALLY I present to you a list of my 5 most unappreciated Diva albums of 2010!


Honourable mention: 

Mariah Carey: Merry Christmas II You: Mariah Carey just scraped into the list with the December release of her second Christmas album Merry II Christmas. This album heralded, for me, the true return of "The Voice", the same voice that the Emancipation album promised but only kind of delivered.

Glorious voice, a return of the vibrato, stunning live instrumentation, the birth of new Christmas classics in the form of When Christmas Comes and Christmas Time is in the Air, and to top it all off a duet with Mariah's opera singing mother, Patricia Carey meant that this album deserved an honourable mention on the list! Please God, let the next Mariah Carey secular album use this one as a reference point vocally.






(5)Joanna Newsom: Have one on me: Nobody seems to be making music like Joanna Newsom any more and as such its not initially the easiest thing to digest on the first, second or even third listen. But perseverance with it will rapidly pay off, and lead you on an amazing musical odyssey that no release last year could match.

Spread over three discs, Have One On Me is an epic, sprawling masterpiece; abundant with abstract lyrics, beautiful live instrumentation and complex melodies that excitingly will reveal something new on every listen for weeks, if not months to come.

In less capable hands a project as complex as this could have easily come off self-indulgent, showy and as if it was trying too hard- a problem Janelle Monae’s album The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III) suffered- but in Newsom’s capable, multi-instrument playing hands, the project feels organic, natural, and a total labour of love.


81:

Have One On Me:



(4)Christina Aguilera- Bionic: Now I'm not going to lie, I hated this album when it first came out. My main gripe with the album was the juvenile lyrics, which I thought were unbecoming of a thirty year old woman. However, after acclimatising somewhat to the lyrical style through multiple listens, and the choice removal of a couple of tracks- Sex for Breakfast , Not myself tonight- the album really began to shine.

The majority of Bionic consists of edgy, futuristic tracks designed for the club- so this is a perfect album to put on before a night out- and although they all share the same electronic genus, the production of the songs are so strong that they all manage to sound distinct and individual.

A Christina album wouldn't be complete without a ballad or two and you'll be glad to hear the select ballads that are on the album mirror the high standard set by their club counterparts, with Lift me up and You Lost Me being two of the best ballads Christina has ever recorded.

This was an exciting new musical endeavour for Christina Aguilera and as such is one that should not have been abandoned so quickly when sales figures were poor. I guarantee that this album will be regarded in higher esteem once her next release plays it steady, safe and ubiquitous.


Lift Me Up:


Glam:




(3) Kylie Minogue- Aphrodite: though always having enjoyed a medium to high level of success in the United Kingdom with her musical releases, I've always felt that Kylie never really gets the respect she deserves for her contribution to music. Sure, she camps it up at every opportunity, her music is mostly carefree and breezy and her voice isn't the strongest- see her vocal profile here- but that shouldn’t, and doesn’t, reduce the importance of her musical impact.

A perfect example of this is Kylie Mingoue's 2010 release Aphrodite. An uplifting, fun, pop, gem of an album, that managed to capture the feeling of love that the Goddess the album is named after perfectly. You only need to listen to the lead single All the lovers - a breathtakingly beautiful song that has a gorgeously giddy electronic breakdown- to get a flavour of the pop magic you can expect from this album.

All the Lovers:


Aphrodite:



(2) Jazmine Sullivan- Jazmine Sullivans album was the surprise show stopper for me. Having heard her first offering, Fearless, I wasn't exactly in a rush to listen to the second: not because it was poor or inaudible, in fact it was quite good, however, it just didn't excite me enough. However, when I put on album number two, Love Me Back, I was transfixed from the start, managing to listen to it from beginning to end in one sitting- a rare feat for me.

The album has a warm, retro undercurrent running throughout that does two things for the project: firstly it binds the whole thing together in a way that doesn't require a blatant, distracting conceptual theme, and secondly it gives the material a timeless feel that is sure to mean the album ages well.

However, the real star of the project is Jazmine's voice: raw, powerful, dark and striking. Each lyric she delivers with thought and a conviction that's so convincing that a song like Love Back- about reclaiming one's love back from an ex-relationship and ultimately moving on- is joyously empowering to hear. The flip side to that is that when she takes her lyrics to a darker place like in Redemption -a heart breaking song about abuse - it becomes incredibly difficult to sit though, so raw are the emotions. Love Back is a testament to a real vocalist at work.

Luv bac

Redemption Song

(1)Robyn- Bodytalk: Swedish pop Diva Robyn embarked on an adventurous concept last year by releasing three independent, English albums under the single umbrella title of BodyTalk. Initially I was worried that this was a gimmick to garner some free publicity, and would eventually lead to not only substandard work, but Robyn overload as the year progressed. But those fears were quickly dispelled as each subsequent part released managed to maintain the quality of what came before.

The strength of the material comes from two sources: one the mesmerising, 80's inspired, electro-pop production and secondly Robyn's thoughtful and unique lyrics, that seem to benefit from a simplicity that is brought about by writing in a language that isn't her mother tongue.

Tell your Girlfriend is a particularly good example of the strengths of this album all wrapped up in one song. It's lyrics deal with the subject of infidelity- with the protagonist being one of those involved in the affair- but is written in such a clever, sensitive, and straightforward way that you can't help but feel sympathy for all of those involved in the relationship, and not just, as you would expect, the person who is being cheated on. That in itself is a feat of great writing because affairs to me had always been quite black and white, consisting of good- the wronged- and bad players- the cheaters. But the song doesn't just have excellent lyrics, the backing is just as affecting and unexpected.

Though this seems like content perfect for a ballad, Robyn switches it up by placing the heavy subject matter over a thumping dance production. It's a clever juxtaposition that not only lightens the subject matter, but leaves a listener free to make their own mind up about the affair without soppy, musical cues influencing their judgement in favour of the protagonists.    

The album has plenty more gems to be found and manages to cover and amalgamate a wide number of genres within it's electro-pop framing. Though the album was a critics favourite, its slightly depressing how criminally ignored by the public Robyn and Body Talk are. MUST BUY ;

Call your Girlfriend was not just a musical masterpiece but its accompanying video was a visual one too. Probably my favourite video of the year so far.

Dancing On My Own: perhaps the most heard release from the Body Talk series.


Comment below on any  female albums you felt were under appreciated last year!

2 comments:

  1. Cheers! Everyone loves Robyn...

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  2. I love and frequently listen to both Robyn and Jazmine Sullivan. I think they are majorly underrated artists. Here's my gripe with Christina's Bionic album, it marginalizes her voice. I'm all for big vocals on dance tracks, think Martha Wash, but the heavy production of this album muddles her voice on nearly every track. It makes her sound as vocally inspiring as Britney Spears, not offense Brit. I will say that You Lost Me is the best track on that album and its one of may favorite tracks by Christina.

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