Wednesday, July 14, 2010

This Is the Buzz...

I'm sitting here, typing this away, while busily munching (but not swallowing, of course) a piece of Trident gum. This fact is seemingly irrelevant, but nay, my friends, this is a change: I hardly ever chew gum. I'm chewing a piece now because first of all, it's relieving me from dehydration due to SoCal's ridiculous weather, but it's also a revolution. It's Bastille Day, and if you know a speck of history, that means that on July 14, 1789, a revolution took place in France. Two hundred twenty-one years later, I'm starting my revolution.

No, I won't be whacking off heads (geez). This doesn't have anything to do with the government, or even with politics. It's more of a resolution then a revolution. Today, I resolved to do the following:
  • Twitter = no mas. Not for awhile, anyway.
  • Facebook = no mas. Not that I've been doing anything with it for awhile, it's just more official now.
  • Blogging = mas! I'm blogging more.
  • Writing = mas! At the minute, my WIP is my favoritest thing in the world. (yes, excuse the writer for messing up her grammar on purpose) Writing also includes songwriting. I've had an urge for returning to it for awhile.
  • Reading = mas! In case you're wondering, I'm reading Emma right now.
That's basically my resolution: more writing, reading, and no social networking aside from blogging. My resolution also includes replying to emails, so if you'd care to drop a line, go ahead and do so.

My resolution is also calling me to get busy on writing a new review as well as to fix my last album review...and to continue revising and writing my WIP.

And since I'll also be busily listening to music, I'll try to update my tumblr often with music quotes. :)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Wanted: A Blogger/Blogspot Genius

Hey, folks! It seems that not too many of you really looked at my album review for Play On, and that's okay. I kind of don't blame you--if you at least glanced at it, you might notice what a mess it looks right now. What's happening is that Blogger (or at least, my Blogger) is messing with the HTML as soon as I press the "post" button. I have no idea why this is happening, or if anyone else is having the same problem, but it seems even the folks at the Google Help Group won't help or have no idea at all.

So I'm in need of some assistance. Just let me know in the comments whether you have a Blogger blog, and check to see if you're having the same problem as well. It seems my whole posting option is screwed up, because I can't even edit old posts anymore without the screen getting messed up. PLEASE, please please help me if you're a wicked awesome genius with Blogger and with HTML. I need to know why my HTML is changing up on itself and how I can fix this. My one idea is because I use Century Gothic instead of the standard Blogger fonts, and if this is the case, then back to Georgia I go (not the state or the country, the font).

Thanks in advance! :D

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Play On by Carrie Underwood

Where I Got the Album: Target! Love that place.

Before I begin, let me say how excited I am to finally be reviewing something from Carrie Underwood. Carrie is definitely one of my favorite, if not my top favorite, artists. No, I don't watch AI (confession: I've only watched a few reruns of the auditions because, you know, that's the really funny part). No, I've never been to her concerts--I've missed the opportunity to twice (*pout*). But yes, I own all of her albums, I can sing all the lyrics to almost all of her songs without looking them up, and I also own the duets she has done with other artists (AND I'm very happy that she just got married a few days ago!)

Okay, so let me give a quick rundown of what I thought of her third album. There's usually this odd tendency for me to prefer sophomore albums over third (junior?) albums, and, to be honest, though I was afraid the same wouldn't happen for Carrie Underwood, it did. I really loved her debut Some Hearts, as well as her sophomore Carnival Ride, Play On was a little flat. Don't get me wrong--it's a nice album and definitely worth the buy for any Carrie Underwood fan, but something was definitely lacking in this third show. Unlike the freshness of Some Hearts and the honky-tonk rawness of Carnival Ride, Play On was a little too cleaned up with pop finesse for the true country fan who knows who Carrie truly is as a singer and knows what to expect from her. There are some gems---both of the more country sort and of the pop variety--but others failed to display Carrie's true talents. One thing though, speaking of her talents: I was glad to see that she got more involved with the writing of her songs. Singer-songwriters FTW.

*1. Cowboy Casanova (Carrie Underwood/Mike Elizondo/Brett James): This. Song. Is. So. Addicting! Play On starts off with a strong country song, one that powers out a similar story and tune as those in Carrie's previous hits "Before He Cheats" and "Last Name". You can be insanely happy or insanely angry, and still sit back--or dance like mad--to this song. This is what Carrie Underwood is about: sassy, girl power tunes country fried to the right degree. Score: 10/10

*2. Quitter (Max Martin/Shellback/Savan Kotecha): Though this is called one of the weakest songs on the album, I can't help liking this song. It's a nice segue after "Cowboy Casanova", but perhaps because the first song is so good, this one seems to fall a little flat. The songwriting isn't very strong, but it's quite catchy and cute--maybe too cute. For the record, I love the musical bridge. Score: 9/10

3. Mama's Song (C. Underwood/Kara DioGuardi/Martin Frederiksen/Luke Laird): First off, I think you have to be in the right mood for this song. It's rather simple, but it's very sweet and resounds of a wonderfully strong bond between a mother and daughter. However, the first time I listened to it, I thought it was rather boring. Listen to the lyrics carefully, and you'll see that this is actually a very beautiful, poignant song. Score: 9/10

4. Change (Katrina Elam/Josh Kear/Chris Tompkins): Where's the country-ness here? Nonetheless, this is a rather touching song, though it's quite pop-ish. One problem: if one doesn't listen to the song carefully and only ends up catching the words of the chorus, the message gets sent all wrong. Not to mention that some charity TV ads ARE scams (much of the donated money actually goes to their advertising, not to third-world countries). Score: 8/10

*5. Undo It (C. Underwood/K. DioGuardi/M. Frederiksen/L. Laird): This is Carrie's current single. I'm not quite up-to-date on all things country at the moment, but I wouldn't be surprised if this is doing very well. This song has the same, girl power country tune as "Before He Cheats" and "Cowboy Casanova". Though one can say that the eponymous verse of "I wanna uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-undo it!" is slightly corny, I personally think it's just catchy and fun--so ENJOY it. Score: 10/10

6. Someday When I Stop Loving You (Hillary Lindsey/Steve McEwan/Gordie Sampson): Dear Ms Lindsey, You're one of my favorite songwriters ever, so when you write a song for Carrie Underwood that make me yawn...I mean, really?? I'm sorry to say that that is what your song "Someday When I Stop Loving You" did to me. Apparently, every top critic sings his or her praises about this song, even if they thought "Quitter" was weak and "Undo It" was corny, but I'm not seeing what's so great about this one. Don't worry--I still love all your other songs. Sincerely, The Nerdette. Score: 6/10

*7. Songs Like This (Marty Dodson/Jerry Flowers/Tom Shapiro): After that yawner "Someday", the album finally gets back into some honky-tonk action with this track. Though it isn't quite as powerful or downright GOOD as "Cowboy Casanova" or "Undo It", it's still a pretty nice song. Thumbs up for the girl power, thumbs down for the weakness. I can't quite pinpoint what was so weak about this one--my guess is the music--but nonetheless, the title is quite clever, considering country isn't really known for its songwriting prowess. Score: 10/10

*8. Temporary Home (C. Underwood/L. Laird/Zac Maloy): The first time I heard this song, though it was slow, I actually enjoyed it. It made me sad, though for the wrong reason (I misinterpreted the first verse as being about the little boy dying). I haven't watched many of Carrie's videos as of late, but I did see this one...and oh my goodness. I hardly every cry watching movies or reading books, but this one very nearly teared me up. Hollywood, get Carrie on the big screen pronto. This singing sensation would do fabulously on stage or on film. Score: 10/10

9. This Time (H. Lindsey/S. McEwan/G. Sampson): It seems that Hillary Lindsey did a writing session with these two other fellows and wrote this song as well as "Someday" on the same day. "This Time" was, yes, weak. Perhaps not as weak as "Someday", for it has some prettily written verses here and there, but the music was much too cleaned up and pop-ish. Score: 7/10

10. Look at Me (Jim Collins/Paul Overstreet): I believe this is a cover, and though it's probably not a bad cover, the song itself is just a yawner. It doesn't matter who's singing it; the music is boring, the lyrics are boring--must I expound on this more? No, I'd rather not. Score: 5/10

*11. Unapologize (C. Underwood/H. Lindsey/Raine Maida/Chantal Kreviazuk): Another pop turn here--and not too bad of one. By the song title, one would assume it's another of Carrie's hard-hitting, boy-dissing tunes. Actually, it's anything but. It's sweet and cute, though again, perhaps a little too cleaned up for a true country fan. Nonetheless, a nice song. Score: 9/10

*12. What Can I Say (C. Underwood/David Hodges/S. McEwan): I said before how much I love Carrie's duets, right? This song is simply gorgeous. The lead singer of Sons of Sylvia, a new country band currently touring with Carrie, has an amazing voice. Everything about this track--the music, the lyrics, the voices, the integration of the two talents here--fits beautifully together. If you're only going to buy a few songs form this album, this should definitely be one of them. Score: 10/10

13. Play On (C. Underwood/Natalie Hemby/L. Laird): Finally! Now we know why this whole CD is called "Play On". Now, the titular track isn't a bad song; however, it's subject matter is a bit clich├ęd. The lyrics are all right, the music falls flat. I would still give this one a listen, but don't expect anything that will knock your socks off. It's inspirational if you're in a bad mood, I suppose.

Red Flags: Check out Common Sense Media, but this is a pretty clean album.

Vocals: 10/10
Instrumentals: 8/10
Songwriting: 8/10
Lasting Value: 9/10
Enjoyment: 9/10
Overall: 44/50

Producers: Mark Bright, Max Martin, Shellback
Genre: Country
Record Label: Arista Nashville/19 Recordings
Release Date: November, 3, 2009
Length: 48:28

Also Recommended:
  • Need You Now by Lady Antebellum
  • Carnival Ride by Carrie Underwood
  • Kellie Pickler by Kellie Pickler
Check It Out!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

New Tunes #2

It has been way too freaking long for this. (Of course, it's been way freaking long yet AGAIN that I've tried to blog. I am just so insanely lazy! :P ) In fact, I have a long, long list of all the songs that I need to do NTs for, but I’m splitting them up in pieces to make things easier for me. :)

And because it’s been so long, it was too much to put all the artists that are going to be featured in this post in the title.

In case you folks forgot, New Tunes is like The Story Siren’s IMM (In My Mailbox), except that instead of it being weekly and instead of it being with books, NT involves music that I recently put on my iPod, and NT has mini reviews of the songs listed. Like IMM, there is also a little Mr Linky at the bottom, if you want to get involved in the music action here. Usually these songs come from iTunes, unless otherwise stated (the ones here are all from iTunes but in some cases, I found them first from other sites such as Project Playlist).

Like so:

"White Liar" by Miranda Lambert from Revolution (2009). Written by Miranda Lambert and Natalie Hemby. I heard so much about this song all over the web, and, being a fan of Miranda Lambert myself, I knew it was a must-buy for me, especially as it is now hailed as one of her best songs and the most aired. I don’t think I even really sampled the song fully on Youtube or Project Playlist—I think I simply listened to a thirty-second sample without thinking about whether I liked it much before buying it—but I quickly bout it, and once I had it loaded up on my iPod, I listened to it immediately. It…wasn’t quite what I expected. I was in the mood at the time for a hard-hitting country rock song, not unlike Lambert’s previous hits, “Gunpowder and Lead” and “Kerosene”, and “White Liar” wasn’t quite that. Considering Lambert’s usual twangy vigor in her songs, “White Liar” was quite calm, though full of the usual cutting girl-power edge popular in many country songs nowadays. For awhile, I didn’t listen to the song much until Twitter and Facebook friends kept talking about it non-stop. So I gave it another go. Songwriting? Clever, catchy. Music? Again, calm for Lambert. Overall? Unique from other country, a slight departure from what is usually expected from this artist, yet very much teeming of Lambert. Score: 9/10

"Big Yellow Taxi" by Counting Crows featuring Vanessa Carlton from Films About Ghosts (2003). Written by Joni Mitchell. I kind of feel like I can’t really review this song, because I’d heard it so much even when I was little and always wanted to know what song it was. I didn’t find out it was a Counting Crows song until back when I was on my Vanessa Carlton high (plus, I thought that would make my online pal, Anilee, happy that I found a Counting Crows song I liked ;) ). There’s so much to like about this song, and although I’m fond of a few Vanessa Carlton songs, the part I least liked about “Big Yellow Taxi” was the fact that Carlton served as background vocals. Perhaps it’s because I usually find background vocals really annoying and cheesy unless it’s done by the lead vocals or unless it is a member of the band performing it, but I wasn’t a fan of her in there. What I did like? Mitchell’s clever, multi-dimensional songwriting full of depth in such a short song (though I haven’t heard the original and can’t judge it, I feel kind of proud to be listening to a song by an artist referenced to in You’ve Got Mail ;) ), Counting Crows’ vocals, and the fact that I found a song I enjoyed listening to on the radio as a little kid. Score: 9/10

"December" by Norah Jones from December - Single (2009). Written by Norah Jones. Norah, Norah, Norah…she is by far one of the best artists of the twenty-first century. As always, graceful music, interesting songwriting, and mature vocals from a young artist who debuted with eight Grammys back in 2002. For some reason, I dislike listening to Christmas music during Christmastime (on my iPod, at least. Things are always different on the radio), but this song was easy to listen to, and I loved listening to it even when December had long past. Perhaps it’s because it’s not just a Christmas song—it’s more a song about the month of December, or it may be an allegory for lost love, as almost all songs are. Definitely recommended. Score: 9/10

"Goodbyes" by Savannah Outen from Goodbyes - Single (2008). Written by Savannah Outen. I found this song completely by accident--I heard it on Vimeo (the MV was used an ad break song). I thought it was okay at first, just really catchy, and after I looked it up, it seemed to become...well, even catchier. After awhile, it kind of...well, it wears off on you. Savannah Outen, fresh out from YouTube fame, certainly has much talent as a singer (especially for her age--watch out, Taylor Swift), though is probably a little lacking on songwriting (apparently she wrote this song, and though apparently she wrote it as a middle schooler, it doesn't seem to have been written with added finesse later). I honestly think this is a fun song, especially for a graduation, and it's fun to perform on the guitar (and if you check out the video, Savannah has a wicked awesome acoustic guitar. I. Want. It. And I do need a new guitar), but it's definitely not a great song. This artist certainly has a lot of potential, provided she doesn't take the well-worn Radio Disney route. Score: 7/10

After you've listened to some, all, or none of those songs above, how about giving your opinion on some songs you found lately, or even the ones above? Sign up on the Mr Linky below, and happy listening!