Daughtry: "Waiting For Superman"
Daughtry is back. The rock band led by American Idol alum Chris Daughtry released on iTunes at 00:01 on Tuesday, September 17th the lead single from their upcoming fourth studio album. The track is called "Waiting for Superman", and is co-written by Sam Hollander and Martin Johnson, the guys behind Karmin's "Acapella".
I think Daughtry got it wrong. This song shouldn't be part of their new studio album, they should've offered it to Warner Bros. Pictures to include it on the soundtrack of the next "Superman" movie. I mean, all these references...! ("Superman", "washing his cape", "Lois Lane", and "Metropolis"). It's not a bad song, though!. It's good, but it doesn't sound "2013" to me, if you know what I mean. "Waiting for Superman", unlike Daughtry's 2011 first single, "Renegade", has a clear radio-friendliness appeal, and pop edge. The Daughtry fellas know they need a hit to get back in the charts' good graces. (2011's "Break The Spell" album didn't sell that well, and none of the four released singles cracked the Top 40 on Billboard's Hot 100). And "Waiting for Superman" might be the song they need. It will get a few 'spins' outside the 'rock' radio formats, for sure, and that's key.
"Waiting for Superman" is a rock song whose lyrics speak of a girl, who feels alone, and who's been 'locked up in her apartment', waiting for that prince charming, aka. her superman, to come and the two fall in love, and have a happy ever after.
So, what is Daughtry's superpower?
Well, he's got quite a few of them. In addition to that instantly recognizable voice and explosive stage presence, this superman remains one of rock 'n' roll's best songwriters. His knack for a hook and storytelling ability are both extraordinary—on par with super strength, the ability to fly, and Spidey sense.
Daughtry's brand new single "Waiting for Superman" showcases all of those superpowers. The first sliver of his forthcoming Baptized out November 19th takes flight on a soaring hook and intriguing instrumentation.
Lines like, "He got stuck at the Laundromat washing his cape" prove both vivid and vibrant examples of his clever wordplay, while the hook is on par with his most memorable.
There's no need to wait for Superman any longer. He's here to save music again with one of the year's catchiest singles.
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Lorde: Pure Heroine
By Evan Sawdey, PopMatters Interviews Editor
We all know how it started: a young, aspiring musician is spotted by a wise industry type who notes the incredible talent she has on display, signs her to a record deal, but keeps her quiet for years on end, slowly sharpening songwriting, delivery, and overall aesthetic until the time is just right to unleash her onto the world, culminating in a gigantic level of attention and admiration for the release of her first big single.
That musician, of course, is Alicia Keys.
There has been much griping in certain corners of the press about the origin stories of the 16-year-old artist named Lorde, a New Zealand songstress born Ella Yelich-O'Connor who just recently topped the U.S. charts with her debut song "Royals". Despite the haunting appeal of Lorde's sound and her evocative lyrics, some are quick to rush to judgment, calling her manufactured and pre-packaged. Of course, the only way to generate this type of backlash is to have songs prominent enough to encourage it, and some of the haranguing that's been going around is simply because Pure Heroine (Lorde's first album following an EP in late 2012) sounds so fully-formed upon arrival, much like the young Ms. Keys before her. Tailoring away on your songs for four years certainly helps, but we've all seen the buzz-backlash cycle enough times before to know that such criticisms about such mature work coming from a voice so young is all just a part of the process.
While some critics have been quick to draw comparisons to other blog-bred chanteuses like Lana Del Ray, in truth, the hushed, brooding dream-pop of Lorde's sound is actually closer in spirit to the provocatively incongruent poetry of Lisa Germano than it is to Del Ray's lethargic line-reads. The album's production, provided by Goodnight Nurse's Joel Little, uses heavily-reverbed synth sounds and simplistic drum patterns to frame Lorde's words and evoke an ethereal, nighttime soundscape that just so happens to congeal into sturdy pop songs, sometimes in exciting, unexpected ways.
Little knows what he's working with, and virtually every success and failure of Pure Heroine can be traced back to Lorde's voice and lyrics. As those who have heard "Royals" know, Lorde's voice is a powerful instrument, particularly when stacked on top of itself like a Queen song. It's a force that is direct, straightforward, but also imminently relatable: her words sound like they were written by her, sung by her, and are about her.
There is no pretense of performance on this album, and the reason for this is that Lorde is so well-versed on what ultimately makes a song effective. While she disses the complete lack of relatability of rap star bling and riches in "Royals", its moments like the steady "Team" wherein her weariness of the whole party-song industry shines through, plainly intoning "I'm kind of over gettin' told to throw my hands up in the air" and instead searching for fun and memories on her own. On album highlight "Ribs", Lorde conjures a quiet kissing-under-strobe lights beauty as she talks about spilled drinks and having Broken Social Scene's "Lovers' Spit" on repeat, which itself conjures up a very specific mood and atmosphere; the steady club beat playing underneath her words sound more like a heartbeat than it does a floor-filler, which may very well describe Pure Heroine's entire aesthetic.
Although it may sound strange for some to hear Lorde talk about how it "drives you crazy, growing old" in "Ribs", part of what makes Lorde's lyric book so appealing is how self-aware it is. She knows she's a part of the Millennial generation, but even she can't pinpoint its own philosophies, informing us that "Baby, the Internet raised us / Or maybe people are jerks" in "A World Alone". Empowerment is a large theme that runs through the album, making a case for people calling themselves violent gladiators in "Glory and Gore", which itself feels like the dark flipside of Katy Perry's self-aggrandizing "Roar".
Pure Heroine isn't really a romantic album, although there is a "you" that comes up frequently, unspecific both in its purpose and usage. Lorde "lives in a hologram with you" on "Buzzcut Season" and notes that said figure and her are "on each other's team" in new single "Team", but, much like "Ribs", her tales and imagery still come with a sense of longing, as in whatever suburban excitement she and her friends find, it will never be truly filling.
That being said, even though Lorde can pull out some rather incredible imagery (as on "400 Lux", where she notes "We're never done with killing time / Can I kill it with you? / Until its veins run red and blue"), sometimes her tracks circle a general theme but never get to the heart of the matter at hand. A lot of songs, for example, have imagery involving teeth ("400 Lux", "Royals", "White Teeth Teens"), but it never feels like an image that's properly used as a connecting agent: it just feels like a trope she continues to return to simply because it's a specific concept she likes to frequently free-associate with. Many of the song hooks are well-placed, but by the time Pure Heroine gets to "Still Sane", the album's most forgettable track, a lot of the production tricks and elements that we've heard before start to feel a bit tired and used, the textures and colors sounding a bit homogenous by album's end; which, for a disc that clocks in at barely over 37 minutes, is not a good sign. Another drawback: opening the album with "Tennis Court", one of the most conventional-sounding songs on the album, which, we learn, is not a pose that suits her well.
Nitpicking aside, Pure Heroine remains a lush, engaging experience. Lorde's sudden international success is most welcome in such an overcrowded, singles-oriented marketplace as we have today, and her songwriting alone may very well turn her into some sort of Leonard Cohen for the tween set. Regardless of what ultimately may become of her reception, her voice is unique and powerfully intriguing. If Pure Heroine is Lorde's first full offering to us, it's incredibly exciting to think about what she may show us next.
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Imagine Dragons: Night Visions
At some point while listening to Night Visions, jotting down notes for this review, I scribbled, "The Killers." I was mentally comparing Imagine Dragons' ambitious arena-ready sound to another well-known indie act from the Las Vegas area. Turns out the similarities don't end there.
Just as Killers frontman Brandon Flowers is an outspoken Mormon, so two members of Imagine Dragons hail from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as well. "We're not a religious band," Mormon guitarist Wayne Sermon told bestoflasvegas.com in a 2012 interview. "[Singer] Dan [Reynolds] and I are religious people, and the other members are agnostic, so I think we come out somewhere in the middle."
That middle looks like this: This debut deliberates over spiritual issues of sin, demons, fallenness, heaven and hell while alternately flirting with and fighting off the mire of melancholy.
"Radioactive" is characteristic of the tone on Night Visions. On one hand, things are really, really bad. As in, apocalyptically bad: "I'm waking up to ash and dust/I wipe my brow and sweat my rust/I'm breathing in the chemicals/This is it, the apocalypse." On the other, we hear later that there's still a glimmer of hope: "All systems go/The sun hasn't died/ … I'm waking up." Similar stuff turns up on "It's Time": "Now it's time to build from the bottom of the pit/Right to the top/Don't hold back." Still, we hear that "the path to heaven runs through miles of clouded hell."
"Demons" also employs strong spiritual language, this time coming from a man who says his tormented soul is tangled in greed ("We are still made of greed/ … Don't get too close/It's dark inside/It's where my demons hide"), yet hopes his squeeze might somehow lead him out of that spiritual wilderness ("I can't escape this now/Unless you show me how").
Opaque lyrics on "Amsterdam" address our tendency to downplay how badly we may really be doing ("Well, these days I'm fine/No, these days I tend to lie"). A man promises a woman who's perhaps on the verge of leaving him that he intends to stay the course in their relationship on "Every Night." "On Top of the World" counsels seizing the moment and telling those close to you that you love them ("If you love somebody/Better tell them why they're here 'cause/They may just run away from you/ … Then again it just depends on/How long of time is left for you").
Philosophical album closers "Working Man" and "Fallen" are glass-half-full/half-empty affairs that could be construed as either positive or positively depressing. The former wonders if there's more to life than just working and spending money. The latter fixates on humanity's fallenness, as its title implies: "Brothers, sisters, the ending is coming/We are fallen, we are fallen/Now we're just gonna ride it out." Note that while we are living in a fallen world, whether "riding it out" is a statement of optimism or futility is open to speculation.
"Hear Me" cozies up to the idea that viewing one's accidental death as a good thing after a painful breakup: "You can leave, it's your choice/Maybe if I fall asleep, I won't breathe right/Maybe if I leave tonight, I won't come back." The song perhaps alludes to a woman as a passionate, experienced partner ("You kiss and you kiss/And you love and you love/You've got a history list"), contrasted with his coldness ("And if you're warm, you can't relate to me").
Self-loathing creeps onto "Every Night" ("I can hardly stand myself/So what am I to you?") Futility permeates the brief "Rocks" ("Why can't I see what's right in front of me?/We fall/We fall apart"). "Bleeding Out" is a grim, ambiguous song about a dying relationship; we hear, "Oh, you tell me to hold on/But innocence is gone/And what was right is wrong/'Cause I'm bleeding out/So if the last thing that I do/Is bring you down/I'll bleed for you/So I bare my skin/And I count my sins/And I close my eyes and I take it in."
Likewise, "Nothing Left to Say" explores the hopeless emotions of a man who's capitulated in the face of struggle: "There's nothing left to say now/I'm giving up, giving up, giving up/ … Below my soul/I feel an engine/Collapsing as it sees the pain." There's a reference to seeking salvation of some sort ("If you could only save me/I'm drowning in the waters of my soul"), but the overall vibe of the song focuses more on the drowning than being miraculously rescued.
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