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Akini's Top 100 Albums of All-Time [2022 Edition: #18]

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  • crystalphoenix
    replied
    Originally posted by JSparksFan View Post
    Yeah, that album is really what got me into contemporary music, chart analysis, and forums. 15 years flew by.
    I knew that she's (obviously) your namesake, but I didn't realize JSparked your interest in chart analysis too! Her impact.

    Originally posted by JSparksFan View Post
    Which visuals would you say are better: the ones for 'Beyoncé' or 'Lemonade'?
    Not gonna lie, it's been a minute (or two) since I've seen either in full, but my gut tells me to go with self-titled. I appreciate the more cohesive overarching narrative of Lemonade, but I recall the self-titled clips being more entertaining/able to hold their own in isolation
    • Speaking of self-titled LPs, thrilled that Mariah's still ranks this high for you! You mentioned lambs' lack of enthusiasm for this album to vinnie, which I've definitely observed too, and I think that's part of an all-too-common attitude (beyond just lambs) that any music that's recognizably from a specific era (in this case, late-80's/early-'90s) automatically = "dated," thus automatically = "bad," but I wish that wasn't always considered such a crime. Just because some of these styles fell out of favor doesn't mean there wasn't craftswomanship involved in these songs' creation (and that they can't still be enjoyed past their trendy period). I love that you dare to defy Mariah by highlighting "Someday," since I ADORE that one too (such a perfect single selection to break up all the ballads, though getting a "Prisoner" video would've been a lot of fun too)
    • I already gushed about TFM when you were covering other Gaga albums, so I'll just applaud its placement here now "Teeth" doesn't get as much play from me either, but I appreciate the diversity it brings to the EP/I respect what she was going for with its inclusion

    Leave a comment:


  • JSparksFan
    replied
    018. Lady Gaga - The Fame Monster



    Just a year after 'The Fame' meteor-crashed the pop scene, Madame Germanotta amped up the goth, the melodrama, and the earnestness with the evolved follow-up 'The Fame Monster'.

    Each of the eight tracks on the LP represents a separate fear. "Bad Romance" represents the fear of love, "Alejandro" the fear of men, "Monster" the fear of sex, "Speechless" the fear of death, "Dance in the Dark" the fear of judgment, "Telephone" the fear of suffocation, "So Happy I Could Die" the fear of addiction, and "Teeth" the fear of truth. I do find it intriguing to have an entire album fuelled by fear, but perhaps that's as organic an expression as she could've gone for, as so many as our moves in life are mapped out by fear. Sidestepping the philosophy of everything, 'The Fame Monster' is my top-ranking Gaga album because it takes all her eccentricities, drapes them in some of the finest pop production ever, and puts them on display for the whole world to appreciate. My top track has long been "Bad Romance". It's my go-to karaoke song and one of the last big heart-on-sleeve pop hits we had. Its music video was actually directed by Francis Lawrence, the guy who directed most of the Hunger Games films, which explains the grandness of that particular clip. The longest-running no. 1 hit on my daily chart from this album is "Telephone", largely because my pop-loving heart couldn't get enough of the combined awesomeness of Gaga and Bey. At this point, it's probably my favourite collaboration of all-time as they complement each other so perfectly. When the beat twists to funk for Bey's part and she punctuates each line with a fierce "uh!", I just can't get enough. "Alejandro" was a fine third single, with its Latin telenovela-esque level of drama stitched into the lyrics, but I was rooting for "Dance in the Dark" to get that third slot and complete the triumvirate of excellence. It's got such rich theatricality and that big name-drop final verse is simply epic. I love how even in the midst of all the dark wildness we have "Speechless", a simple, straightforward, piano-led ballad. The song's actually about her father, who underwent heart surgery during the songwriting period for the album. "So Happy I Could Die" has an odd structure that I don't often find in pop songs - the verses and the pre-chorus outshine the actual chorus, but it works for me. I love how "Monster" was never a single, but it's so integral to her brand that she performs it on her tours even now, 13 years later. And the reaction that gets alone is well worth the price of admittance. The only song on this eight-track EP that doesn't quite take me to Venus is "Teeth"; its militaristic melody just doesn't gel with me.

    As discussed in my write-up for 'The Fame', some territories counted the two projects as one, others did not, so evaluating the individual sales for each is a headache-inducing exercise I shan't undertake. It is noteworthy, though, that Lady Gaga was Billboard's Artist of the Year in 2010, which suggests that 'The Fame Monster' took her profile a notch higher at home that 'The Fame' didn't. At the Grammys, "Bad Romance" won Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Best Short Form Music Video. 'The Fame Monster' won Best Pop Vocal Album and was nominated, as 'The Fame' was in the previous year, for Album of the Year.
    Code:
    Significance rating: 14/20
    No. 1s on my daily chart: Telephone (x13); Bad Romance (x8); Dance in the Dark (x2); So Happy I Could Die (x2); Alejandro (x2); Monster (x1)
    Best lyric: I want your leather-studded kiss in the sand
    Best melody: Bad Romance
    Best video: Bad Romance
    Rank in 2010 countdown: 5
    Rank in 2011 countdown: 13
    Rank in 2012 countdown: 32

    Leave a comment:


  • JSparksFan
    replied
    Originally posted by vinnie65 View Post
    My favorite album from Mariah Carey so far!
    Pleased to read this. I think her debut album is generally underrated by fans and the GP.

    Originally posted by cheapthrills View Post
    #27 - I love Beautiful in so many ways you don't even know - maybe I should make Christina my next Cheap 10, though I'm in a Christmas haze right now, and not sure I'd give her the justice she deserves right now. At the time, that Dirrty video kind of turned me off the song, but I appreciated the album in it's entirety, and its a big reason why I was so heavily pro-Christina in the Brit v Xtina war. Fighter is also stunning.
    Also, during that 2001/2002 period, it was Christina that put out the better album, tbh.

    Originally posted by cheapthrills View Post
    #25 - Such a huge, huge album for Bey. It has a lot of her classics on there, though I am also partial to Sweet Dreams. In retrospect, it's weird that we had to go what, six? seven? singles deep for her to release that one. I am basic and prefer the Sasha Fierce section more, but If I Were a Boy is a really fantastic song form the I Am side.
    Yeah, it was the sixth single. Not sure what witchcraft and wizardry went on in the exec room for "Diva" and "Ego" to be ahead of it in the singles line.

    Originally posted by cheapthrills View Post
    #22 - Ah! I was concerned with Sasha Fierce being so high up that we wouldn't see more Bey and then she almost immediately crops up again! I prefer this album to Sasha Fierce too - it was more anthemic, more personal, and most importantly, wasn't chasing the sound. That surprise Christmastime drop is legendary. I ended up buying the album for my niece in Christmas with my card saying "I don't think you're ready for this jelly" and she bought me the album as well, with the card saying "I don't think you can handle this!" haha! I think this is my favorite album by Bey, tho that doesn't mean I don't think Lemonade and Renaissance aren't also fantastic.
    Aw, this is too adorable.

    Originally posted by cheapthrills View Post
    #21 - Oh man Breakway was the gift that kept on giving - it seemed like the album was like the energizer bunny with its long lasting singles and mixture of tracks to keep us guessing. My favorite track on the album is actually an unpopular opinion as well - it is - Walk Away, her final single, and I was always irritated it fell short of the top ten, but the album had been cranking out for over a year at that point. On my personal chart it was Because of You that was the only one to go all the way to #1, though she had five songs from that album hit the top five.
    Yeah, I remember her bare midriff in the "Walk Away" video. In a brief moment in space and time, it was also my top track from the album, but sobriety prevailed. It is absolutely top three for me, though!

    Originally posted by cheapthrills View Post
    #20 - Pink Friday filled a huge void since there was such a lack of female emcees for so long, and it was essentially just her once she released this for a few years. So I agree with your ending assessment - it's an important album and she referenced her own importance by calling her the next album the pinkprint to which the women could follow her to equal success. Nicki proved she could play with the big boys repeatedly and she was completely correct to claim the crown - I wouldn't say it was premature at all.
    And now it looks like we have to wait five years between albums.

    Originally posted by cheapthrills View Post
    whew I see the next two, but I'll pause there because you've created so much content, I need to go check out those threads.
    The OF gurls could never!

    Leave a comment:


  • cheapthrills
    replied
    #27 - I love Beautiful in so many ways you don't even know - maybe I should make Christina my next Cheap 10, though I'm in a Christmas haze right now, and not sure I'd give her the justice she deserves right now. At the time, that Dirrty video kind of turned me off the song, but I appreciated the album in it's entirety, and its a big reason why I was so heavily pro-Christina in the Brit v Xtina war. Fighter is also stunning.

    #25 - Such a huge, huge album for Bey. It has a lot of her classics on there, though I am also partial to Sweet Dreams. In retrospect, it's weird that we had to go what, six? seven? singles deep for her to release that one. I am basic and prefer the Sasha Fierce section more, but If I Were a Boy is a really fantastic song form the I Am side.

    #22 - Ah! I was concerned with Sasha Fierce being so high up that we wouldn't see more Bey and then she almost immediately crops up again! I prefer this album to Sasha Fierce too - it was more anthemic, more personal, and most importantly, wasn't chasing the sound. That surprise Christmastime drop is legendary. I ended up buying the album for my niece in Christmas with my card saying "I don't think you're ready for this jelly" and she bought me the album as well, with the card saying "I don't think you can handle this!" haha! I think this is my favorite album by Bey, tho that doesn't mean I don't think Lemonade and Renaissance aren't also fantastic.

    #21 - Oh man Breakway was the gift that kept on giving - it seemed like the album was like the energizer bunny with its long lasting singles and mixture of tracks to keep us guessing. My favorite track on the album is actually an unpopular opinion as well - it is - Walk Away, her final single, and I was always irritated it fell short of the top ten, but the album had been cranking out for over a year at that point. On my personal chart it was Because of You that was the only one to go all the way to #1, though she had five songs from that album hit the top five.

    #20 - Pink Friday filled a huge void since there was such a lack of female emcees for so long, and it was essentially just her once she released this for a few years. So I agree with your ending assessment - it's an important album and she referenced her own importance by calling her the next album the pinkprint to which the women could follow her to equal success. Nicki proved she could play with the big boys repeatedly and she was completely correct to claim the crown - I wouldn't say it was premature at all.

    whew I see the next two, but I'll pause there because you've created so much content, I need to go check out those threads.

    Leave a comment:


  • vinnie65
    replied
    My favorite album from Mariah Carey so far!

    Leave a comment:


  • JSparksFan
    replied
    019. Mariah Carey - Mariah Carey



    With a name inspired by a Broadway musical and an opera singer and vocal coach for a mother, one could validly state that Mariah Carey was destined for some level of success in music. And that destiny was in no small way fast-tracked when she accompanied Brenda Starr, for whom she sang backup at the time, to a music executive's party where MC gave her demo tape to Columbia Records head, Tommy Mottola. In short order, her debut studio album would arrive on shelves across the world and would be, by my estimation, the grandest first effort by any artist in music history.

    'Mariah Carey' is such a statement of intent album. It's a grand coming out party for a legend-to-be and I love that both the vocals and lyricism are centre-stage, as they would be for the next 32 years of her career. Lead single "Vision of Love" is a chilling vocal performance, revered by many as a "lung-tester" that would cause lesser vocalists to self-implode. Right off the bat, she showcases that inimitable whistle register, enviable breath control, perfect pitch, and powerful belting capabilities. "Vanishing" is another vocal tour de force track, one that took a few years to grow on me, but I absolutely love now. Around the mid-section of the album, she reins in the vocal bombast and acrobatics, and the softer "All in Your Mind" and "Alone in Love" feature her strengths as a storyteller, armed at the ready with all her poetic flourishes. "Someday" is the best-of-both-worlds track, in my view, and is a close second-best to "Prisoner", which is easily one of the most exciting tracks within MC's catalogue, with its hip-hop sensibilities and cadence. And speaking of genre breadth, she even veers into soft rock territory on "You Need Me", which helps to add some colour to an otherwise traditional soul-pop LP.

    Released in June 1990, 'Mariah Carey' didn't hit #1 until 36 weeks after debuting and then stayed there for 11 weeks. It was the best-selling album in America in 1991, buoyed by her Grammy appearance (and wins for Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "Vision of Love"). The era yielded four no. 1 hits, including "Love Takes Time", which was such a last-minute add (that MC herself had to fight to include) that early pressings of the album didn't include the track.
    Code:
    Significance rating: 14/20
    No. 1s on my daily chart: Prisoner (x3); Vision of Love (x3); Vanishing (x2)
    Best lyric: No more living in the shadow of your love, this is my life, you always tried so hard to keep me down, but now I'll rise above, those empty lies, stop pretending that my accusations take you by surprise, I've realized, now I'm ending all the secrecy, I see through your disguise
    Best melody: Vision of Love
    Best video: Vision of Love 
    Rank in 2010 countdown: NR
    Rank in 2011 countdown: NR
    Rank in 2012 countdown: 10

    Leave a comment:


  • JSparksFan
    replied
    Originally posted by vinnie65 View Post
    Kelly Clarkson´s best album!!
    Agreed!

    Leave a comment:


  • vinnie65
    replied
    Kelly Clarkson´s best album!!

    Leave a comment:


  • JSparksFan
    replied
    020. Nicki Minaj - Pink Friday



    After seven years of going through the rap ranks, including being a part of a hip/hop quartet, it was Nicki Minaj's third mixtape, 'Beam Me Up Scotty', that generated major buzz and caught the attention of Lil Wayne. A signature on the dotted line later with Young Money Entertainment would be the start of the major-label career of hip/hop's most significant female emcee.

    I sometimes call 'Pink Friday' a debut by someone who'd already perfected her craft, but I do need to call attention to a particular lyric on the album (in "Moment 4 Life"). "I will retire with the crown, yes" - she said this on album one! To quote one of my fave UK drag queens Tayce, "the cheek, the nerve, the gall, the audacity, and the gumption!" As for the song itself, it has its glittery pop moments, which is probably what makes it my mother's favourite Nicki Minaj song, and the vocal layering that the producers do at the end of each line in the chorus is a really cool touch. The song that got the most love from the GP was "Super Bass". I love its playfulness, her flow and lyricism, and the colourful video, with some incredible eye candy. I remember the video for this premiering the same day as "Judas" and me being surprised that it headed Judas's view count the first week, when, at that time, Lady Gaga was the premiere pop star of the moment. I thought that that was a good sign of the song's commercial appeal and I was quite right. "Blazin'" is another firm favourite. It's essentially a flex track, showing off her breath control on an extended first verse. She does such a fire job that sparring partner Ye even struggles to keep up. Interestingly enough, the track that's my fave after all these years is "Last Chance". I love the high-stakes lyrics and the beat is so high-energy and infectious. Natasha Bedingfield does a brilliant job on the refrain. I think it could've slayed as a single as it shows Nicki Minaj in her finest form - fun and playful, clever and charming, animated and relentless.

    'Pink Friday' would debut at no. 2 behind Ye's 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy', but would do the improbable two months later, in the cold sales climate of January - it would climb to no. 1. At the Grammys, she would be nominated for Best New Artist, "Moment 4 Life" for Best Rap Performance, and 'Pink Friday' for Best Rap Album, inexplicably losing all nominations (a running career theme with her and the Grammys). Several music journalists have highlighted the album for its impact and influence and I particularly liked what Nick Soulsby from PopMatters had to say two years ago. In recognition of the "avalanche of female talent" coming to the fore in hip/hop, he wrote, "We’re living in the house that Minaj built and recognition that she is the finest rapper of the past decade is overdue." The man's right and it all started with this monster of a debut.
    Code:
    Significance rating: 14/20
    No. 1s on my daily chart: Last Chance (x3); Super Bass (x1); Moment 4 Life (x1); Here I Am (x1); Blazin' (x1); Girls Fall Like Dominoes (x1); Fly (x1); Did It On'em (x1)
    Best lyric: I remember when I couldn't buy my mother a couch, now I'm sitting at the closing, bought my mother a house, you could never understand why I grind like I do, Micaiah and Jelani why I grind like I do
    Best melody: Last Chance 
    Best video: Super Bass
    Rank in 2010 countdown: NR
    Rank in 2011 countdown: 7
    Rank in 2012 countdown: 23

    Leave a comment:


  • JSparksFan
    replied
    Originally posted by crystalphoenix View Post
    DYING @ your Grammy analysis for IASF I can't deny that I was a part of the problem, though (thinking B'Day was "too R&B" and that IASF was "a step in the right direction"/a well-done "course correction"). I'll also confess that I've always preferred the R. Kelly duet version of IIWAB. Wasn't expecting to come across some "Single Ladies" video shade in this write-up! "Sweet Dreams" is a VERY-worthy standout (it was so exciting to watch this album's 5th? 6th? single make it into the Hot 100 Top 10), but there's still several un-mentioned gems I gotta add: "Satellites," "Smash Into You," and I had an especially big soft spot for "Broken-Hearted Girl"
    I never got the hype for it. It's a pretty simple video and doesn't even feature her best dancing.

    Originally posted by crystalphoenix View Post
    I love the very random (but brand-new to me) American Idol factoid that Jordin was the show's first non-Southern winner. Her debut album didn't strike me as quite so consistent overall, but I do share your approval of "Shy Boy," "Freeze," and especially "One Step At A Time." I also didn't know you thought "Tattoo" was a dud for so long!
    Yeah, that album is really what got me into contemporary music, chart analysis, and forums. 15 years flew by.

    Originally posted by crystalphoenix View Post
    A friend sat me down to watch all the visuals from self-titled before I'd heard the album, and it definitely set the right tone for my enjoyment of the whole project. It's my most-Scrobbled B album, and I don't foresee that ever changing (though that honor would probably go to IASF if I'd joined last.fm a year or two earlier). I figured "Drunk In Love" was your Beyoncé fave, but I didn't realize it's your overall (un-italicized) Beyoncé fave! You're really making my heart sing by taking the time to praise "Ring Off." The only track that still hasn't grown on me/almost always gets skipped is "Rocket"
    Which visuals would you say are better: the ones for 'Beyoncé' or 'Lemonade'?

    Originally posted by crystalphoenix View Post
    Breakaway was another exciting era to follow in real-time, since pop/pop-rock albums generally weren't sending strings of singles into the Hot 100 Top 10 in 2004-2005, but Kelly made it look easy with Breakaway. Your lack of enthusiasm for SUBG might be even more shocking than your "Single Ladies" shade (though at least you offer a satisfactory explanation for this one) I gotta show some love to "Gone" (really wish this could've been a single, but I get that the title was too similar to SUBG) and "You Found Me" too[/LIST]Top 20 hype!
    I actually don't think "Gone" has aged well.

    Leave a comment:


  • crystalphoenix
    replied
    • DYING @ your Grammy analysis for IASF I can't deny that I was a part of the problem, though (thinking B'Day was "too R&B" and that IASF was "a step in the right direction"/a well-done "course correction"). I'll also confess that I've always preferred the R. Kelly duet version of IIWAB. Wasn't expecting to come across some "Single Ladies" video shade in this write-up! "Sweet Dreams" is a VERY-worthy standout (it was so exciting to watch this album's 5th? 6th? single make it into the Hot 100 Top 10), but there's still several un-mentioned gems I gotta add: "Satellites," "Smash Into You," and I had an especially big soft spot for "Broken-Hearted Girl"
    • I love the very random (but brand-new to me) American Idol factoid that Jordin was the show's first non-Southern winner. Her debut album didn't strike me as quite so consistent overall, but I do share your approval of "Shy Boy," "Freeze," and especially "One Step At A Time." I also didn't know you thought "Tattoo" was a dud for so long!
    • A friend sat me down to watch all the visuals from self-titled before I'd heard the album, and it definitely set the right tone for my enjoyment of the whole project. It's my most-Scrobbled B album, and I don't foresee that ever changing (though that honor would probably go to IASF if I'd joined last.fm a year or two earlier). I figured "Drunk In Love" was your Beyoncé fave, but I didn't realize it's your overall (un-italicized) Beyoncé fave! You're really making my heart sing by taking the time to praise "Ring Off." The only track that still hasn't grown on me/almost always gets skipped is "Rocket"
    • Breakaway was another exciting era to follow in real-time, since pop/pop-rock albums generally weren't sending strings of singles into the Hot 100 Top 10 in 2004-2005, but Kelly made it look easy with Breakaway. Your lack of enthusiasm for SUBG might be even more shocking than your "Single Ladies" shade (though at least you offer a satisfactory explanation for this one) I gotta show some love to "Gone" (really wish this could've been a single, but I get that the title was too similar to SUBG) and "You Found Me" too
    Top 20 hype!

    Leave a comment:


  • JSparksFan
    replied
    021. Kelly Clarkson - Breakaway



    19 short months after the success of 'Thankful', which sold just under three million copies in the US and produced a transatlantic top ten hit in "Miss Independent", the inaugural Idol champ wanted to prove she was more than just a talent show competition act, and that her art and talent could move beyond the pop-gospel sound of her first album and make her a legitimate force in the pop music space of the mid-2000s. She teamed up with more contemporary producers, the headlining names being Max Martin and Dr. Luke, with future Idol judge Kara DioGuardi and 'Let Go' melody man Clif Magness added for good measure.

    Though she shares a sound palette with Avril Lavigne and P!nk, 'Breakaway' helped distinguish her from the pack of pop-rock acts that were so successful during the early-to-mid-2000s period. Kelly could go toe to toe with them in the grit department, but she had a pitch quality card to play that they didn't. As for the individual highlights on the album, my unpopular opinion is that "Since U Been Gone" is not one of them...and that's probably my fault, as I played that song like a madman back in the day to the point where I've worn out its magic. The brilliant ballads gave this album so much heart. "Because of You" is the critics' favourite for the rawness and vulnerability in the lyrics, made even more impressive as Kelly wrote the frame of the song when she was just 16, but I raise "Addicted" as a not-oft-cited gem. It would fit even more seamlessly on 'My December'. "Behind These Hazel Eyes" is my favourite track because it's a ballad that follows the basic balladry rules. It builds to a significant, climactic emotional explosion and is armed with an iconic video. The album's lead single and title track was actually co-written by Avril Lavigne and originally intended for 'Let Go'. When the vision for Avril's debut was fleshed out, it didn't include "Breakaway" so the track was up for grabs and KC swooped in and gave it golden wings. I once felt the song too tame, but it's grown on me so much over the years as I've really come to appreciate and relate to the lyrics. It's now one of my most-played KC songs.

    At the Grammys, 'Breakaway' won Best Pop Vocal Album and and "Since U Been Gone" Best Pop Vocal Performance. Though the album 'only' peaked at no. 3, it would go six times platinum at home, five times platinum in the UK and Canada, and seven times platinum in Australia. And speaking of multiples, it is by such a margin her most successful era that her second-most-successful era, 'Stronger', has barely done a third of what 'Breakaway' did commercially. I've said it before, but 'Breakaway' succeeded in legitimising not only Kelly Clarkson, but also American Idol by extension.
    Code:
    Significance rating: 14/20
    No. 1s on my daily chart: Behind These Hazel Eyes (x5); Because of You (x2); Breakaway (x1)
    Best lyric: I'll spread my wings and I'll learn how to fly, though it's not easy to tell you goodbye, I gotta take a risk, take a chance, make a change, and break away
    Best melody: Behind These Hazel Eyes
    Best video: Behind These Hazel Eyes
    Rank in 2010 countdown: 16
    Rank in 2011 countdown: 6
    Rank in 2012 countdown: 3

    Leave a comment:


  • JSparksFan
    replied
    Originally posted by vinnie65 View Post
    Born To Die is a great album from Lana del Rey
    Her best one!

    Originally posted by cheapthrills View Post
    Oh wow, you'll really have to crank out the posts at this point!
    Yeah, it's not happening. I'll give myself grace and likely wrap it up in January (or February).

    Originally posted by cheapthrills View Post
    Thank you for taking your time though as I have found myself behind again.
    No problema.

    Originally posted by cheapthrills View Post
    Yeah Nicki has been away long enough that I have started to miss her, so I think a release would have worked out. I don't understand how you release a #1 song and then not follow it up with anything. Like, strike when the iron's hot, girl.
    She had a #2 song earlier in the year as well. The stage was set perfectly for an October/November release, but she dropped the ball. Interesting that neither she nor Cardi B have released since 2018 despite having multiple chart hits outside of those eras.

    Originally posted by cheapthrills View Post
    RiRi releasing anything this year already feels like a fever dream and that's with me seeing Wakanda this week.
    I've been too sick to see it, but hopefully my throat stops letting me down and I'm in shape next weekend.

    Originally posted by cheapthrills View Post
    Oh you'll be disappointed in me The other two are Merry Christmas and Daydream.
    Well, 'Merry Christmas' features her best vocals, but I am sensitive to her Christmas work being put above her non-holiday material. 'Daydream', though? I can't fault you for that.

    Originally posted by cheapthrills View Post
    #33 - The Pinkprint would probably be my favorite Nicki album too, even though Pink Friday yielded one more top ten than Pinkprint did - the songs from that album hit harder for sure. This is controversial, but Truffle Butter remains one of my favorite things she has ever done.
    Not too controversial. I like "Truffle Butter"; it just doesn't stand out to me on such a strong album.

    Originally posted by cheapthrills View Post
    #32 - Bad was in the unenviable position of following Thriller, like, there's not follow-up to that. You broke everything in sight. That he crafted some songs which are still iconic is a huge testamant because I can't imagine the pressure. I agree that the Siedah Garrett duet is forgettable, and I'm not sure why MJ thought it was a good idea to mimic the crappy-duet-as-lead-single again - maybe he didn't want to jinx things. I'm actually not a fan of Bad either; I think it's really cheesy and Prince was smart to pass. But then! Then - the singles were stellar - The Way You Make Me Feel, Man in the Mirror, Dirty Diana, and Smooth Criminal u get - it's like fireworks and you get to the finale and you just stop with the oohs and aahs because it's all so amazing.
    I didn't mention it in the write-up, but 'Bad' is the top-ranking male album...so the entire top 31 is women.

    Originally posted by cheapthrills View Post
    #30 - yes, that firework metaphor was intentional knowing I'd talk about Katy next. Firework is my favorite song on this album. Katy could do no wrong with this era. All the singles from this album managed to get into my top ten, so she's in rare territory. Unfortunately my initial excitement started to dampen the longer Katy singles stayed in the top 10. Like it went from amazing to exhausting, and so I blame this album for burning me out on her.
    Yeah, living in the Caribbean, there was no way Katy was gonna be overexposed, so I was able to appreciate its domination from a comfortable distance.

    Originally posted by cheapthrills View Post
    #29 - OK, given my renewed interest in Carrie with She Don't Know, I'm going to have to come back to this one. I gave your most played track a listen (I Know You Won't) as well as All-American Girl and she really can weave through a story, can't she? Now I feel bad about dismissing her all those years ago. I blame it on Bo Bice.
    Glad you liked those two.

    Originally posted by cheapthrills View Post
    #28 - OK, Chromatica being above The Fame was a pause, but ARTPOP? Hmm Maybe I should blame my hesitation on Mother Monster herself seeing as she seemed to pay the era dust with the weird roll-out of Do What U Want. I'll be forever perplexed wy therewas no drive for promo to get it just a few spots higher to be top 10. And Applause was not a flop, but it was treated like one for the reasons you said, even though it's by far the more thought-provoking of the two. Roar was just Firework 2.0 imo. Applause held a top ten position for months; I really get annoyed when people say it was a letdown performance on the charts. I am glad Dope had the one-week iffy week in the top ten though so I could at least say all her eras had two top tens at least up until that time.
    'ARTPOP' and 'Chromatica' being better than 'The Fame' is a hill I'm willing to sit on (not die on because death is a touch too dramatic).

    For what its worth, I think Gaga distances herself from the era not because she is embarrassed of the material, but because it probably conjures some bad memories with some professional relationships that were wounded (or flat-out 'homicided') that era.

    Originally posted by cheapthrills View Post
    OK, I'll pause there! Maybe I can catch up when I circle back. Thanks for sharing your top albums
    I appreciate you stopping in! <3

    Leave a comment:


  • cheapthrills
    replied
    Originally posted by JSparksFan View Post
    Yeah, it's not looking like I'll be able to finish this by my self-imposed 11/30 deadline, but we'll see!
    Oh wow, you'll really have to crank out the posts at this point!

    Thank you for taking your time though as I have found myself behind again.

    Originally posted by JSparksFan View Post
    I'm actually really annoyed with Nicki for not putting out an album this year. The stage was set perfectly. Between her and RiRi coming back with lacklustre soundtrack songs, my island girl queens aren't giving me much to root for in 2022.
    Yeah Nicki has been away long enough that I have started to miss her, so I think a release would have worked out. I don't understand how you release a #1 song and then not follow it up with anything. Like, strike when the iron's hot, girl.

    RiRi releasing anything this year already feels like a fever dream and that's with me seeing Wakanda this week.

    Originally posted by JSparksFan View Post
    Yeah, I was hoping we'd get something this year, but nope. Good to read that 'Caution' would be in your top three MC albums. What are the other two?
    Oh you'll be disappointed in me The other two are Merry Christmas and Daydream.

    #33 - The Pinkprint would probably be my favorite Nicki album too, even though Pink Friday yielded one more top ten than Pinkprint did - the songs from that album hit harder for sure. This is controversial, but Truffle Butter remains one of my favorite things she has ever done.

    #32 - Bad was in the unenviable position of following Thriller, like, there's not follow-up to that. You broke everything in sight. That he crafted some songs which are still iconic is a huge testamant because I can't imagine the pressure. I agree that the Siedah Garrett duet is forgettable, and I'm not sure why MJ thought it was a good idea to mimic the crappy-duet-as-lead-single again - maybe he didn't want to jinx things. I'm actually not a fan of Bad either; I think it's really cheesy and Prince was smart to pass. But then! Then - the singles were stellar - The Way You Make Me Feel, Man in the Mirror, Dirty Diana, and Smooth Criminal u get - it's like fireworks and you get to the finale and you just stop with the oohs and aahs because it's all so amazing.

    #30 - yes, that firework metaphor was intentional knowing I'd talk about Katy next. Firework is my favorite song on this album. Katy could do no wrong with this era. All the singles from this album managed to get into my top ten, so she's in rare territory. Unfortunately my initial excitement started to dampen the longer Katy singles stayed in the top 10. Like it went from amazing to exhausting, and so I blame this album for burning me out on her.

    #29 - OK, given my renewed interest in Carrie with She Don't Know, I'm going to have to come back to this one. I gave your most played track a listen (I Know You Won't) as well as All-American Girl and she really can weave through a story, can't she? Now I feel bad about dismissing her all those years ago. I blame it on Bo Bice.

    #28 - OK, Chromatica being above The Fame was a pause, but ARTPOP? Hmm Maybe I should blame my hesitation on Mother Monster herself seeing as she seemed to pay the era dust with the weird roll-out of Do What U Want. I'll be forever perplexed wy therewas no drive for promo to get it just a few spots higher to be top 10. And Applause was not a flop, but it was treated like one for the reasons you said, even though it's by far the more thought-provoking of the two. Roar was just Firework 2.0 imo. Applause held a top ten position for months; I really get annoyed when people say it was a letdown performance on the charts. I am glad Dope had the one-week iffy week in the top ten though so I could at least say all her eras had two top tens at least up until that time.

    OK, I'll pause there! Maybe I can catch up when I circle back. Thanks for sharing your top albums

    Leave a comment:


  • vinnie65
    replied
    Born To Die is a great album from Lana del Rey

    Leave a comment:


  • JSparksFan
    replied
    022. Beyoncé - Beyoncé



    Surprise-released in mid-December 2013, 'Beyoncé' was the legend's first official visual album (though one could argue 'B'Day' was a visual album sans the branding). It came off the heels of a weary fanbase's wait for new music, with folks expecting a release around her February SuperBowl performance 10 months prior. Just as we'd all given up hope that year, and started in earnest our year-end countdowns, Beyoncé stopped the world that pivotal Friday.

    My favourite Beyoncé song is on this album's tracklist - "Drunk in Love". The African tribal beats, the Catholic-confessional-esque first few lyrics, the lust and passion, those supreme vocals - it is the quintessential Beyoncé masterpiece! There are multiple versions that slay me: the original, the Kanye West remix, the live Coachella performance. I hate lazily penned sex songs, but this one has just the right serving of romance, seduction, and pure animalistic desire. The Kanye West remix is heavy on the vulgarity, but it never crosses over to crassness for me. Even Jay-Z manages to come through with one of his best-ever verses. Of course, Beyoncé is the focal point of each version. Vocally, she reminds you why she's on another level from most of her 'peers' and I applaud her for being able to repurpose the song in a live setting with a considerably different arrangement, yet still retain every iota of thrill that the studio versions deliver. Her delivery throughout the track is also insane. There are some parts where she assumes a hip-hop kind of flow and she seamlessly glides from that style to big, sustained belts without missing a beat. At its lengthiest, "Drunk in Love" is a few seconds shy of seven minutes, but I never get bored because the song provides such a meaty sonic, lyrical, and vocal experience. It's such a complete masterpiece, and I have fond memories of this literally being everywhere, yet it never got old. "Partition" is another massive highlight. The uninhibited sexual lyrics, that intoxicating beat that merged grimy edge with a sleek R&B sheen, the ridiculously hot music video, the random French insert at the end. It's all too much, and in the best possible way. The biggest 'for the culture' track is arguably the "***Flawless" remix with Nicki Minaj. It's armed with an exciting melody that twists and turns, never running low on diesel as it powers through the ebb and flow of the verses and back and forth between the two mega-stars; a catchy, arguably iconic hook ("I woke up like dis"); a clever, albeit evasive, response to that widely debated elevator incident; and an incredible verse from the rap queen herself. "Blow" is another sexually uninhibited track, one that the fanbase loves more than I do, but one that has grown on me a good bit over the years to the point where I adore it now, too. "Ring Off" is underheralded, but I love its earnest, triumphant chorus. "Pretty Hurts" is the most accessible, mainstream-ready track on the albums, with Sia's recognisable songwriting throughout.

    Though released three days late into the then-traditional tracking week that started on Tuesday, 'Beyoncé' achieved the legend's highest first-week sales of her career up to that point (617k). She became the first female artist to have her first five studio albums debut atop the Billboard 200, beating Britney Spears's record of four. At the Grammys, "Drunk in Love" won Best R&B Song and Best R&B Vocal Performance, whereas the album itself won Best Surround Sound Album (a category I didn't even know existed until this won).
    Code:
    Significance rating: 14/20
    No. 1s on my daily chart: Drunk in Love (x12); Pretty Hurts (x4); ***Flawless (x3); Blow (x2); 7/11 (x2); Partition(x1); Ring Off (x1); Standing on the Sun (x1); Superpower (x1); Heaven (x1)
    Best lyric: I get filthy when that liquor get into me
    Best melody: Drunk in Love
    Best video: Partition 
    Rank in 2010 countdown: NR
    Rank in 2011 countdown: NR
    Rank in 2012 countdown: NR

    Leave a comment:


  • JSparksFan
    replied
    023. Jordin Sparks - Jordin Sparks



    After an impressive run on the sixth season of American Idol that earned her that year's crown, becoming, at the time, the youngest winner in the competition's history, and the first winner not from the south, the infinitely gifted 17-year-old juggled touring with recording, with a strict early October deadline to get everything wrapped. The end result would be what I expected, the best debut release from any American Idol graduate.

    There's a tonne of significance tied to this album. It's the first album I ever bought and the artist in question is the woman that got me into music. As for the material on the album itself, 15 years later, I'd say it still holds up. It's a well-tailored cut of fine pop and R&B gems reflective of the young woman bringing them to life. The LP's so consistent, I feel like you could choose a song blindfolded and it'd have major hit potential, but there are favourites of mine that have endured over the years. "Permanent Monday", the most mature moment on the record and one of its top vocal performances, is poetic and beautiful. It's very autumn-ready and its melancholy is palpable. I always think of "Next to You" and "Now You Tell Me" as fraternal twin tracks, maybe because they're adjacent to each other in the tracklist, but they're each such clean-cut pop/R&B midtempo gems. The former has a more R&B-leaning, snappy melody backing it, the latter a more straightforward and earnest pop-driven production. They also both focus on trepidation and timing in love, which seem to be issues that remain unresolved in our lives, even as we gray. Then there are the singles. Jordin loved "Tattoo" so much that she was super eager to release it as lead; I, on the other hand, was considerably less enthused and the track would take years to finally connect with me. I still think she made the wrong call with it as the forerunner of the album. The big hit "No Air", which, after all the years and controversies, is also Chris Brown's biggest worldwide hit, is a huge favourite still, but I did overplay it massively in 2008 and my ears have grown slightly weary of it now. The third single is actually the one that's aged the best and is my top 'Jordin Sparks' track, "One Step at a Time". It has a universally appealing message of quelling anxiety and taking life as it comes, rather than anticipating and trying to control or will things to your liking. I wish I'd paid more attention and heeded that message as I grew up. But yes, this album is pretty close to faultless, with the only 'axeable' track being "See My Side", which I still consider to be a gear-one bore and the only misstep among her incredible first two releases. "Freeze" is a song that a number of folks who aren't fans of hers seem to really enjoy. It's her solo songwriting credit on the standard edition and was inspired by the death of her grandmother, and her desiring to permanently 'freeze' some of those cherished moments that have to be relegated to mere memories when a loved one passes. "Shy Boy" is a song that's very not her style, but I appreciated her for trying something contemporary, fresh, and club-ready. A song that was more her style was "Just for the Record". It has some country influences, which I love, and a rolling kind of chorus that is simply delightful. Adolescent me was crazy about "God Loves Ugly", but it's a bit preachy for me at this point in my life. Its heart is in the right place, though. (The reviewers at Jesus Freak Hideout probably gave the album such a glowing review because of that particular track).

    'Jordin Sparks' opened to a rather tepid no. 10 debut, which had everyone losing their mind as it had the lowest opening sales for any AI winner first album at that point, but its streak of consecutive top 20 singles got the album to the platinum finish line eventually. "No Air" got a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals and bizarrely enough, BET gave her an award during the era for Beautiful Face. I mean I don't disagree, but okay? I think most people would consider this era a massive underperformance for someone with her 2007 platform, but the quality was never in doubt. The reception was lukewarm for whatever reason, but this would not be the biggest mismatch of quality/commercial success attained. That heartbreak would be arriving just two short years later.
    Code:
    Significance rating: 14/20
    No. 1s on my daily chart: One Step at a Time (x7); Tattoo (x3)
    Best lyric: There's a canopy of stars and I just miss you like crazy
    Best melody: Shy Boy
    Best video: One Step at a Time 
    Rank in 2010 countdown: 7
    Rank in 2011 countdown: 8
    Rank in 2012 countdown: 6

    Leave a comment:


  • JSparksFan
    replied
    024. Lana Del Rey - Born to Die



    After years of consuming rather straightforward synthpop, traditional R&B and soul, modern country, and my pick of the palatable hip/hop, 'Born to Die' came in like an irresistible, new, fresh aroma when released in the early part of 2012. The love was so immediate that it landed at no. 33 on an all-time favourite albums countdown that I put together just a few months later.

    The glamour of 'Born to Die' is perhaps the secret weapon that makes this Hollywood pop perfection. Each individual track sounds like it could competently soundtrack a black and white film from yesteryear, and the production, though glossy, is simple but deceptive in its effectiveness. Lana's hypnotic vocal delivery goes a long way in making the songs the home runs that they are, though I also want to give her major props for the top-tier songwriting here (Lana's got songwriting credits on each track). The visuals took fans on quite the ride as well, making the era one of the meatiest of the pop eras we got that year. As for the highlights, they've remained rather consistent for me the last 10 years. "Dark Paradise" is gothic seduction; you somehow leave the track feeling a strange mix of melancholy and sexual charge. Don't ask me how Lana manages it. She does something similar on "Radio", particularly in her pronunciation of "vitamin". "Off to the Races" is the LP's most sonically adventurous track, an alternative blend of glam-pop and grimy hip/hop, complete with vivid and passionate storytelling. Lana's not known for her stellar vocals, but I absolutely love her voice on this; she sounds angelic on the falsetto parts. The way she casually alternates between her Bonnie-level badass and pinup Barbie doll personas is pretty impressive, too. I've referred to "Summertime Sadness" and "Born to Die" before as the twin towers of the album. They're equally dreamy and melancholic, and in all honesty it might be the latter's fantastic music video that tiebreaks it for me. In it, she looks regal and majestic, and the production on the track matches that luxe look.

    Though the blend of pop here is alternative-leaning, its mainstream appeal was significant. It peaked at no. 1 in the UK and no. 2 in the US, earning multiplatinum certifications in those two territories and elsewhere. According to the IFPI, 'Born to Die' was the fifth-best-selling of 2012, but what might underscore just how well this album did is the fact that it has a higher CSPC total than any of Ariana Grande's albums. Insane, huh?
    Code:
    Significance rating: 13/20
    No. 1s on my daily chart: Summertime Sadness (x9); Born to Die (x5); Blue Jeans (x5); National Anthem (x2); Lucky Ones (x1); Off to the Races (x1)
    Best lyric: Oh, my God, I feel it in the air, telephone wires above are sizzlin' like a snare, honey, I'm on fire, I feel it everywhere, nothin' scares me anymore
    Best melody: Lucky Ones 
    Best video: Born to Die
    Rank in 2010 countdown: NR
    Rank in 2011 countdown: NR
    Rank in 2012 countdown: 33

    Leave a comment:


  • JSparksFan
    replied
    025. Beyoncé - I Am...Sasha Fierce



    After two solid successes with largely R&B material, for her third studio album, Beyoncé opted to lean all the way into pop. The result would be the most successful era of her career.

    'I Am...Sasha Fierce' is bifurcated into two parts - the 'I Am' part with the contemporary balladry and the 'Sasha Fierce' half with the bops. I love that neat partitioning. For me, the ballad half, though slightly weaker, features her most classic ballads. "If I Were a Boy" did a brilliant job touching on several of the double standards in society for women, so much so that I made the track my feature topic for my psychology of gender project in college, which I aced. "Save the Hero" is a really tender, vulnerable, airy slow burn that essentially reminds listeners to put their own life jackets on first. Everyone's favourite, though, is "Halo". I can imagine it featured in wedding ceremonies aplenty, though for me it is slightly overplayed. It is my mother's favourite Beyoncé song, so it holds a special place in my household's playlist for that alone. Two ballads not on the 'I Am' half physically, but I feel are there spiritually, are "Hello" and "Scared of Lonely". They feature more sprightly melodies, but they're my top two ballads from the project. "Hello" is "Halo" without the googly-eyed romance - it's the raw, fervent, irrepressible connection and passion that is too rare a joy in our lifetimes. "Scared of Lonely" highlights a fear I've had for a decade-plus at this point that I'm well on track to actualising. Beyond the ballads that perhaps inspire too much introspection are the bops! Unpopular opinion - "Single Ladies" is a better song than it is a video...and it's far from the best song on the album. "Radio" is quintessential Bey, "Diva" is a hip/hop inspired mic drop, but "Sweet Dreams"? Whew. That is a pop masterpiece that top pop stars have entire careers and never record. It's the crown jewel on the album for me and even if she had to travel to Florida to record it, it was well worth the sacrifice.

    If you knock on Metacritic's door, they'd let you know that this is their lowest-ranked Beyoncé album with an unremarkable aggregate score of 62. However, slide on over to the Grammy folks, and they'd tell you that this was good for everything but Album of the Year. 'I Am...Sasha Fierce' would win Best Contemporary R&B Album (why, you ask? Well, racism, my sweet darling), while "Halo" took home Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and "Single Ladies" swept the table with Best R&B Song, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, and Song of the Year. The album would have a huge US #1 debut and go on to become a huge chart success for Queen B. Just to give an idea of how big this era was, no era she's had since has been half as successful! Undoubtedly, this was the era that really separated her from the pack and propelled her to that Billboard Female Artist of the 2000s honour.
    Code:
    Significance rating: 13/20
    No. 1s on my daily chart: Sweet Dreams (x14); Scared of Lonely (x4); Halo (x3); Hello (x2); If I Were a Boy (x1); Save the Hero (x1); Disappear (x1); Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) (x1); Radio (x1)
    Best lyric: I'm in this fight and I'm swinging and my arms are getting tired, I'm trying to beat this emptiness, but I'm running out of time, I'm sinking in the sand and I can barely stand, I'm lost in this dream, I need you to hold me
    Best melody: Sweet Dreams
    Best video: Sweet Dreams
    Rank in 2010 countdown: 11
    Rank in 2011 countdown: 37
    Rank in 2012 countdown: 18

    Leave a comment:


  • JSparksFan
    replied
    026. Lana Del Rey - Norman F**king Rockwell!



    When Lana Del Rey unleashed 'Born to Die' onto my unsuspecting ears in 2012, I thought I had found that decade's new phenom. Little did I know that her next three albums would be projects that failed to connect with me and I would eventually give up on her. However, in the eighth hour of the 2010s decade, she surged back to the front of the pack with 'Norman F**king Rockwell'. Who knew all she needed in her writer's room was a handsome, eyeglasses-wearing, fit geek?

    The production of this album is dreamy and atmospheric, and the lyrics are grade A, introspective, poetic pieces. It's easy to get lost in the gentle melodies, even when she's spitting vulgar lines. "F**k It, I Love You" emerged as my favourite, perhaps in part because I'd just moved stateside when the album dropped and the lyric about moving somewhere new but taking yourself with you connected with me on a really intense level. The falsetto pieces are also massive highlights for me. The most powerful lyric, though, is stitched within "Cinnamon Girl" - that line about a lover being the first to not hurt you is a real tearjerker, as it forces you to consider the dysfunctional decoupling with which most of us grapple. "Happiness is a Butterfly" has a similar theme in its refrain that I find equally enrapturing. The regret in "California", the shade in "The Greatest" - it's great storytelling throughout that commands attention.

    'Norman F**king Rockwell' debuted at no. 3 in the US, becoming her fifth consecutive top three album at home (and also the first to not peak at no. 1 or no. 2). In her more hospitable UK market, she tied Taylor Swift for the solo female act with the most UK no. 1 albums (at four) when this topped the chart its debut week. On Metacritic, its aggregate score of 87 is comfortably her highest. Maybe I shouldn't have been surprised considering she's never won there before, but I was disappointed when it lost its Grammy nomination for Album of the Year. It did win Best Album at the NME Awards, though, and was considered the best album of 2019 by Pitchfork, Slant, the Guardian, and me!
    Code:
    Significance rating: 13/20
    No. 1s on my daily chart: F**k It, I Love You (x4); Cinnamon Girl (x2); Happiness is a Butterfly (x1); The Greatest (x1); Hope is a Dangerous Thing for a Woman Like Me to Have - but I Have It (x1)
    Best lyric: There's things I wanna say to you, but I'll just let you live, like if you hold me without hurting me, you'll be the first who ever did
    Best melody: Happiness is a Butterfly
    Best video: Mariners Apartment Complex
    Rank in 2010 countdown: NR
    Rank in 2011 countdown: NR
    Rank in 2012 countdown: NR

    Leave a comment:


  • JSparksFan
    replied
    Originally posted by hun View Post
    Pleased to see love for 'All For You', but sad it's not even top 50 and no Janet albums will be. Very disappointing.
    Small win that she had as many as four charted albums?

    Leave a comment:


  • hun
    replied
    Pleased to see love for 'All For You', but sad it's not even top 50 and no Janet albums will be. Very disappointing.

    Leave a comment:


  • JSparksFan
    replied
    Originally posted by crystalphoenix View Post
    I didn't know about that tour injury, and it definitely gives "Applause" additional significance as her next lead single. Admittedly, my enthusiasm for Gaga did dip alongside the GP during this era (the avant-garde/artsy aspects here just didn't click with me the way they did on BTW. ARTPOP somehow felt much..messier? in comparison). That said, I do share several of your highlights ("Aura," "Gypsy," and especially our problematic fave DWUW) You mentioned the "Aura" demo: was that its "Burqa" form, or were there multiple early versions floating around? I've gotta shout-out "Swine" too! I could live without the song's (potential) fat/body-shaming aspects, but I really appreciate its examination of our fallible human tendency to get swept up in the orbit of charming/popular-but-deeply-sh*tty people who also bring out the worst in ourselves (so then we wind up hating both them and ourselves): "'cause it's when I'm not thinking with you that I act like a swine..."
    Is that X-Tina swerve shade?

    It was an unpolished "Aura" cut! I'll have to spend some more time with "Swine" (words I didn't expect to say today).

    Leave a comment:


  • crystalphoenix
    replied
    Originally posted by JSparksFan View Post
    CSPC = Commensurate Sales to Popularity Concept. This link gives some background to the concept as well as lists out T-Swizzle's CSPC figures by era.
    Many thanks! I'll have to sit with that a bit/let it sink in, since it's brand-new to me.
    • I didn't know about that tour injury, and it definitely gives "Applause" additional significance as her next lead single. Admittedly, my enthusiasm for Gaga did dip alongside the GP during this era (the avant-garde/artsy aspects here just didn't click with me the way they did on BTW. ARTPOP somehow felt much..messier? in comparison). That said, I do share several of your highlights ("Aura," "Gypsy," and especially our problematic fave DWUW) You mentioned the "Aura" demo: was that its "Burqa" form, or were there multiple early versions floating around? I've gotta shout-out "Swine" too! I could live without the song's (potential) fat/body-shaming aspects, but I really appreciate its examination of our fallible human tendency to get swept up in the orbit of charming/popular-but-deeply-sh*tty people who also bring out the worst in ourselves (so then we wind up hating both them and ourselves): "'cause it's when I'm not thinking with you that I act like a swine..."

    Leave a comment:


  • JSparksFan
    replied
    027. Christina Aguilera - Stripped



    After achieving great success at the tail end of the 90s and into the early 00s riding that lucrative bubblegum pop wave of the era, Christina Aguilera's then-manager seemed intent for her to take another ride on that carousel. She vehemently disagreed, they parted ways, she got a new manager, and forged a more mature sophomore path for 'Stripped'.

    Rather shockingly, 'Stripped' is Christina's lowest-rating album on Metacritic with an aggregate rating of just 55. It seemed that critics felt the album went in too many different directions...but I actually love that about it. It covers a rich breadth of genres, from R&B and soul to rock to hip/hop to pop and Latin, as well as a broad canvas of themes, from female empowerment and self-esteem to sexual liberation. While I believe, as a collective, her finest ballads are on 'Bionic', 'Stripped' features her most-acclaimed, "Beautiful", penned by openly lesbian singer-songwriter Linda Perry. Before LGBT inclusion was en vogue, Christina included in the music video for "Beautiful" honest, honourable portrayals of the gay and trans communities, an act that would in no small way endear her to many queer folk. My favourite song on the album is "Fighter". It's such a powerful rock anthem and those background vocals only add to its lustre. Other highlights include the step-by-step seduction of "Infatuation", the big female stab against the patriarchy "Can't Hold Us Down", the uninhibited "Dirrty", and the American Idol coronation anthem that never happened "Soar".

    Though 'Stripped' would be pipped to the post by Eminem's '8 Mile OST' (can't imagine X-Tina was pleased about that), the album would be certified five times platinum in the US and six times platinum in the UK. "Beautiful" would win the Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and the era would see her achieve more UK top 10s than any other of her eras (five total). Retrospectively, critics would acknowledge the impact and greatness of the album, and I think it's a near-unanimous consideration that this is X-Tina in her prime.
    Code:
    Significance rating: 13/20
    No. 1s on my daily chart: Beautiful (x6); Fighter (x4); Infatuation (x1); Get Mine, Get Yours (x1)
    Best lyric: Don't look at me, every day is so wonderful, then suddenly it's hard to breathe, now and then I get insecure, from all the pain, I'm so ashamed
    Best melody: Infatuation 
    Best video: Dirrty 
    Rank in 2010 countdown: 42
    Rank in 2011 countdown: 39
    Rank in 2012 countdown: 21

    Leave a comment:

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