CD reviews: Mitoy, Lady Gaga, Britney, T.I.
"The Voice of the Philippines: The Complete Season 1 Collection"
The Voice of the Philippines' Inaugural season champ Mitoy Yonting remakes classic OPM ballads and international hits in a powerful voice of a hard rocker. He’s at the top of his lungs belting out Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart”, Ka Freddie’s “Anak” or Heart’s “Alone” on the 10 tracks that make up this compilation.
On the other hand, his revision of Peter, Paul and Mary’s ‘60s folk standard “Leaving On a Jet Plane” or the Beatles’ archetypal ‘60s pop-rocker “Help” delivers too much dynamics to downplay the hooks. Mitoy’s cover of these two songs can stun the listener unintentionally to submission. A little tweak on the volume will bring back the empathy expected of a seasoned performer.
Trends come and go, but the sex-obsessed pop music of Lady Gaga keeps chugging away. Despite their obvious self-indulgence, Gaga’s songs continue to build on some sort of myth-making.
Her latest album, with the high-brow claim to art pop, contains additional bricks for her chapel of love and lust. The album cover itself sees Gaga cupping her breasts while opening song “Aura” poses, “Do you wanna see me naked, lover?” In “Manicure,” she sighs, “Touch me in the dark/Put your hands all over my body parts.”
The second half of "Artpop" has more to do with the price of fame and the allure of the sweet weed (“Mary Jane Holland,” “Dope”). Just the same, the accompanying lyrics booklet shows photos of a nude Gaga with only a blue crystal ball for cover.
The music behind Lady Gaga’s new offensive is a three-ring circus of dance-pop, ballads and a nod to Gung Nam-style electro funk. No new musical ground is broken and nothing arty issues from this carnal pleasure-seeking platter.
CD 2 of the de luxe edition is where the erotica and the music come alive. Gaga in a two-piece bikini performs at a 2013 iTunes festival, hips grinding, touching herself and oozing with intense sensuality.
Nine albums into an off-and-on career, Britney Spears would be expected to be comfortable with the concept of transformation, moving with ease from teen phenomenon to an older but wiser survivor.
That’s not exactly the case with Britney’s self-titled release where she still milks her twee pre-teen voice for some surprising pay-offs. In “It Should Be Easy," featuring will.i.am, that vocal mannerism is a pleasant counterpoint to Will’s lightly vocodered raps. On the next track, “”Tik Tik Boom,” the same natural voicing humanizes the layered electronics behind the insistent beat.
The same vocal treatment fits right in with the punchy dance craze of “Till It’s Gone” as well as the openly rocking machinations of “Passenger.” It’s in the ballads though that the warm, almost angelic harmonies lose their appeal halfway through the songs.
For now, Britney’s twee voice counters the expansive ambience of electronic bombast. It’s a girl’s voice really and Ms. Spears seems to have turned it into a perfect vehicle to restore her off-and-on presence in the public eye. Britney may have found her fountain of youth and she’s basking in its glory.
After completing a year in prison on firearms charges, T. I. made up for lost time hooking up with rap’s best and brightest for collaborations. He has since gone back behind bars after his recent arrest on drugs and parole violation.
T. I. created the music and lyrics on "No Mercy" before he went back to prison. His contributors include Kanye West, Eminem, Chris Brown, Drake and Christina Aguilera. With the male associates, T. I. boasts and toasts about the thug life, drugs and guns, bitches and a gallery of mofos.
This music, however, is suffused with old soul and solid funk that won’t be out of place in a modern pop-rock record. For instance, the title track starts with a simple piano riff then slithers heavily into an Evanescence-sounding tune. “Live Your Life” is a tear-jerker with hooks borrowed from Blood, Sweat and Tears. His second coming is awaited with bated breath.