Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Rihanna's "Talk That Talk" seesaws between romance, raunch

LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com) - The advance word on Rihanna's new album "Talk That Talk" was that it would be full of dirty talk -- as in stark-raving smutty. That turns out to have been an overstatement: filth-ophilia really only accounts for about a third of the record.
But, um, it's a memorable third. "I want you to be my sex slave," she sings in "Cockiness." "I can be your dominatrix ... She may be the queen of hearts, but I'm gonna be the queen of your body parts." No surprise, that, coming from the woman who already had a hit off her last album called "S&M."
She gets to the point much faster in the one minute and 18 seconds of "Birthday Cake," which barrels through a set of not-quite-double entendres about licking and biting baked goods before America's sweetheart just cuts to the chase by declaring, "I want to f--- you right now."
How does she want to? Let her count the ways: "On the bed, on the floor, on the couch," she sings, acting as a sort of erotic location scout on "Watch N Learn" -- although this number may be less about traditional sexual congress than the more advanced lessons that a man requires to physically satisfy a woman. "If you learn how," sings Rihanna, the demanding tutor, "I'll stay."
But don't take away the impression that the album is strictly about unbridled carnality. These decidedly raunchy numbers are bookended by sweet songs about how Rihanna needs to find love, just like everybody else.
Having these two sides to balance ought to make her more interesting -- in theory. But if there's anything Rihanna's not about, it's complexity. Her songs are about either heart-breaking love or couch-busting sex, but never both, because the guys who write her songs have no vested interest in making that twain meet.
Regardless which side of the romance/raunch divide you fall on, you might agree that the salacious songs on "Talk That Talk" beat the sensitive ones hands-down. That's partly because her producer-writers seem more stimulated by sprucing up bedroom romps with interesting electronic textures than they are in rote R&B/rock power ballads.
And it's partly because Rihanna's affectless voice is better suited to conveying "naughty" than the greater demands of nice.
Early in the album, she does come up with a couple of key singles that manage to be fun and more or less family-friendly at the same time. On the Dr. Luke-co-produced "You Da One," Rihanna sings "I'm so happy that you came in my li-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-ife" with the same staccato, unmelismatic quality that made "Umbrella-ella-ella" hold water. She's boosted by a nifty arrangement that's halfway like her native neo-reggae before the beat kicks in with a cool kind of lurching electronica.
Also irresistible is "We Found Love," which offers a tender sentiment ("We found love in a hopeless place") that's all but negated by the gimmicky electronic crescendos that frequently interrupt the tune. These are moments tailor-made to prompt the DJ to spin the disco ball a little faster. But there's no hopeless place quite like the dance floor, right?
After these early highlights, though, you mostly have your pick between the lust songs, which are ludicrously crude but cleverly crafted, and the love songs, which might be more palatable but bear no personal stamp.
One positive thing you can say for sure about the album is that it's less dark and more high-spirited than the frequently ominous "Rated R" and "Loud." The club isn't a bad place to encounter her, and the album is at its musical best when it sticks to dance music. But with Rihanna's status as an icon and magnet for controversy, "fun" will always play second fiddle to what fans want to project onto her.
Many critical essays have and will be written on how Rihanna is presenting herself as a feminist role model in the wake of the Chris Brown scandal. Her last three albums, issued quickly and annually, have gotten increasingly sexually explicit and seem designed to present her as someone who's in control, not a victim. You can hardly accuse her of overplaying the vulnerability card to pander to post-beating public sentiment.
But if we're not going to get a vulnerable Rihanna, we might want a Rihanna whose sexual aggression is at least thought-out and personal, not just the product of a bunch of very smart guys crafting her songs and image.
Unfortunately, diving into "Talk That Talk" (or Rihanna's not terribly interesting interviews and tweets), you'll be hard-pressed to find too much self-directed depth to her rapidly emergent dominatrix side -- unless you're an overreaching rock critic. And/or really, really horny.

Nicki Minaj tweets details about new album

On Tuesday, American hip hop artist Nicki Minaj tweeted details of a sophomore album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded.
"The album looks to be a continuation of her 2010 debut, Pink Friday, with her male alter ego ‘Roman Zolansk' again at the focus," writes music site Consequence of Sound. "As for the Reloaded part, let's just assume Nicki is a big fan of the Matrix's 2003 sequel."
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The new album is set to release on Valentine's Day 2012 (February 14) in the US. Stay tuned for announcements regarding its wider release.

Last year, Minaj released her much-talked-about Pink Friday, which peaked at number one in the US, where it saw its greatest success. Famed for breaking new ground for female rap artists, she became the first female rapper to have seven hit songs on the US Billboard charts last year -- the songs include her collaborations with rappers Ludacris, Usher, and others.
 

Miley Cyrus, Darren Criss, Adele, Maroon 5 team up to pay tribute to Bob Dylan

miley-cyrus-324.jpgWhile Miley Cyrus isn't the first person to come to mind when making a wishlist of artists to cover Bob Dylan songs, we have to admit -- we're really looking forward to this album.

Miley and a host of her contemporaries have joined forces to pay tribute to both Bob Dylan and Amnesty International with a new cover album. The record, titled "Chimes of Freedom," features a huge variety of artists -- from Pete Seeger to Ke$ha.

"Glee" star Darren Criss even makes a contribution to the four-disc compilation, covering New Morning with his brother, Chuck Criss, and his band the Freelance Whales. The jam-packed album, which "salutes Amnesty International's 50th anniversary and life-saving human rights work," is set for a January 24 release. Check out the list of songs and artists below to see which classic your favorite singer will be covering.

DISC 1 
Raphael Saadiq Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat
Patti Smith Drifter's Escape
Rise Against Ballad of Hollis Brown
Tom Morello The Nightwatchman Blind Willie McTell
Pete Townshend Corrina, Corrina
Bettye LaVette Most of the Time
Charlie Winston This Wheel's On Fire
Diana Krall Simple Twist of Fate
Brett Dennen You Ain't Goin' Nowhere
Mariachi El Bronx Love Sick
Ziggy Marley Blowin' in the Wind
The Gaslight Anthem Changing of the Guards
Silversun Pickups Not Dark Yet
My Morning Jacket You're A Big Girl Now
The Airborne Toxic Event Boots of Spanish Leather
Sting Girl from the North Country
Mark Knopfler Restless Farewell
DISC 2 
Queens Of The Stone Age Outlaw Blues
Lenny Kravitz Rainy Day Woman # 12 & 35
Steve Earle & Lucia Micarelli One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below)
Blake Mills Heart Of Mine
Miley Cyrus You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go
Billy Bragg Lay Down Your Weary Tune
Elvis Costello License to Kill
Angelique Kidjo Lay, Lady, Lay
Natasha Bedingfield Ring Them Bells
Jackson Browne Love Minus Zero/No Limit
Joan Baez Seven Curses (Live)
The Belle Brigade No Time To Think
Sugarland Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You (Live)
Jack's Mannequin Mr. Tambourine Man
Oren Lavie 4th Time Around
Sussan Deyhim All I Really Want To Do
Adele Make You Feel My Love (Recorded Live at WXPN)
DISC 3 
K'NAAN With God On Our Side
Ximena Sariñana I Want You
Neil Finn with Pajama Club She Belongs to Me
Bryan Ferry Bob Dylan's Dream
Zee Avi Tomorrow Is A Long Time
Carly Simon Just Like a Woman
Flogging Molly The Times They Are A-Changin'
Fistful Of Mercy Buckets Of Rain
Joe Perry Man Of Peace
Bad Religion It's All Over Now, Baby Blue
My Chemical Romance Desolation Row (Live)
RedOne featuring Nabil Khayat Knockin' on Heaven's Door
Paul Rodgers & Nils Lofgren Abandoned Love
Darren Criss featuring Chuck Criss and Freelance Whales New Morning
Cage the Elephant The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Band of Skulls It Ain't Me, Babe
Sinéad O'Connor Property of Jesus
Ed Roland and The Sweet Tea Project Shelter From The Storm
Ke$ha Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
Kronos Quartet Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
DISC 4
Maroon 5 I Shall Be Released
Carolina Chocolate Drops Political World
Seal & Jeff Beck Like A Rolling Stone
Taj Mahal Bob Dylan's 115th Dream
Dierks Bentley Senor (Tales of Yankee Power) (Live)
Mick Hucknall One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later)
Thea Gilmore I'll Remember You
State Radio John Brown
Dave Matthews Band All Along the Watchtower (Live)
Michael Franti Subterranean Homesick Blues
We Are Augustines Mama, You Been On My Mind
Lucinda Williams Tryin' To Get To Heaven
Kris Kristofferson Quinn The Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)
Eric Burdon Gotta Serve Somebody
Evan Rachel Wood I'd Have You Anytime
Marianne Faithfull Baby Let Me Follow You Down (Live)
Pete Seeger Forever Young
Bob Dylan Chimes Of Freedom

Miley Cyrus Parties Until 3 A.M. on 19th Birthday

Kelly Osbourne threw the ultimate birthday bash for her celeb BFF Miley Cyrus on Tuesday.
Miley Cyrus Parties Until 3 A.M. on 19th BirthdayA source tells Us Weekly that Osbourne rented out Beacher's Madhouse inside the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel to help the 19-year-old celebrate her special day.
"Her mom Tish went, and so did her boyfriend Liam [Hemsworth]," the source says of Cyrus. "The group was up until 3 a.m. just dancing up a storm and having fun."
Cyrus seemed quite impressed with Osbourne's planning skills, calling it "the best party ever" on Twitter. "Let's just say there was a unicorn in the lobby!" (An onlooker tells E! News there was a horse with a horn attached to its head inside the soiree.)
Prior to Tuesday's birthday blowout, Osbourne teased that it was "going to be the sickout thing [Miley has] ever seen in her life."
"That was my mission for her, to make her birthday...the best day ever."
Osbourne and Cyrus first became friends while shooting the comedy So Undercover. The film has yet to be release

Billboard honoring Nicki Minaj as rising star

NEW YORK (AP) — Nicki Minaj will have another moment to savor from her super year: Billboard is honoring her as its rising star of 2011.
She is slated to get the honor at Billboard's "Women in Music" event on Dec. 2 in New York City.
Minaj said Wednesday she was "deeply honored to be recognized by Billboard." She said she and her fans have come a "mighty long way" but are not close to where "God will take us."
The rapper and singer has emerged as one of music's most popular entertainers since releasing her debut album "Pink Friday" late last year. Her hits include "Super Bass" and "Moment 4 Life." She'll have one of her biggest fans on hand as well: Taylor Swift is also being honored as the woman of the year.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Rihanna's "Talk The Talk" release tops iTunes


(Reuters) - Grammy-winning singer Rihanna may soon be headed to the top of the album charts after her latest record, "Talk That Talk" reached No. 1 on iTunes on Tuesday, one day after its release.
The singer released early teasers online as much as a week in advance, helping push the album into the top 10 on iTunes. Fans took to Twitter and Facebook to call the album Rihanna's best yet. Critical reviews, however, were mixed.

"Talk That Talk" is the sixth studio album from the 23-year-old Barbadian singer, following CDs like "Rated R" and "Loud," which have seen her steadily evolve from teen pop star to adult performer since her 2005 debut. She has earned international success over the years with singles like "Umbrella," "Rude Boy" and "What's My Name."

The 11-track "Talk That Talk" features themes of love and sexuality with a mixture of up-tempo dance tracks and reggae beats on "Where Have You Been," "Birthday Cake" and "You Da One," along with ballads "We All Want Love" and "Farewell."
Rihanna also collaborated with rapper Jay-Z -- whose Roc Nation label manages her -- on the single "Talk That Talk" and Scottish producer Calvin Harris on chart-topping dance anthem "We Found Love." The record also features a sample of British indie rock group The xx's "Intro" on single "Drunk On Love."
The singer's fans were upbeat on Twitter.
@OhMy_Kayla said, "This TALK THAT TALK album by @rihanna is by far the best one yet!!!!,, I FREAKING LOVE HER," and @gabixballa tweeted, "I've only been listening to Talk That Talk since yesterday. Lowkey @rihanna's best album ever."
Despite the positive fan reception, critics delivered mostly mixed reviews, acknowledging the singer's move toward dance music but criticizing the lyrics.

New York Times' Jon Caramanica called the record "the blithest Rihanna album" and criticized the singer's voice for being "certifiably blank." Randall Roberts at the Los Angeles Times gave the album two out of four stars, saying it "contains little sweat, slobber or fluids and a lot of plasticized, inflatable insinuation."
British music magazine NME scored the album a five out of ten, and called it "annoyingly safe with just glimpses of what it might have been." 

But not all critics were put off. TheWrap.com's Chris Willman called the record "less dark and more high-spirited" than her last two records, adding "the album is at its musical best when it sticks to dance music."
(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

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