July 27, 2012
by Monica Soto
Marina and the Diamonds
This album is amazing. There are 14 tracks, so I assumed that it would slow down at some point into something lackluster. But that never happened. This is dance music with touches of pop, alternative rock and R&B. With heart-pounding beats reminiscent of Lady Gaga’s addictive hooks, Marina uses a unique range of vocal styles that fit perfectly with this style of music. Fans of Katy Perry and Nikki Minaj would certainly enjoy this fearless artist. My favorite songs are “Primadonna,” “Lies,” “Teen Idle,” and “How to be a Heartbreaker.” The album, which reached No. 1 in the U.K. and Ireland, has been released now in the United States.
Maroon 5’s new creation is as close as you can get to a perfect pop album. They have had hit after hit after hit, and with this new CD, it’s clear to me that they don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon. I don’t want them to, and with such good songs I don’t see how anyone would. Their current hit, “Payphone,” features Wiz Khalifa and is already circulating the airwaves. The rest of the CD adheres to the tone of that song, and Maroon 5 is sure to have several more hits from this album. This is my first experience with a full-length Maroon 5 album, but fans of their older hits are sure to keep this CD on repeat like I have been doing. One of the slower songs, “Sad,” reminds me of the piano version of Lady Gaga’s “The Edge of Glory” with an Adele-style undertone to it. But my favorites are the more upbeat ones – “One More Night,” “Lady Killer,” and “Tickets.”
Listening to the entirety of this E.P. is an experience. I was already enjoying Shara Strand when halfway through, the songs change into their bonus acoustic versions. The mood of the pop-heavy songs changes entirely, and I find myself respecting her vocals much more than in the first half of the album. The guitar strummings glide softly beneath her vocals, which are very much the strong point of the songs and really carry the album. The album comprises three original and two cover songs. My favorite one is “I Will Carry You.” Both the acoustic and regular versions are too addictive in the best way. If you’re a fan of Tori Amos, Celine Dion, or Idina Menzel, I definitely suggest Shara Strand. Her E.P. is available now on iTunes.
Go! Pop! Bang!
This is dance music to the absolute core. There are signs of M.I.A. influences, which is no surprise because M.I.A. is one of the producers and is featured on the tracks “Sunshine” and “Better Than You.” Fans of rap, R&B and dance will surely enjoy this. It is edgy, fun, and ready for a late-night party. My favorites are “Drop,” “DNA,” and “Better Than You (featuring M.I.A.).”