The album that keeps on giving

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ariana

Arianators rejoice! After three long years of waiting for a full length album release, Ariana Grande’s debut album “Yours Truly” has FINALLY been released to the world on September 3. If you don’t know who Ariana Grande is by now, don’t worry, you will soon.  Within the past few weeks, Ariana has managed to promote her second single “Baby, I”, open up for the southern leg of Justin Bieber’s Believe tour, hit the road on her own tour (Listening Sessions), and even perform during the VMA Pre Show on MTV. Oh…and did I mention that it is quite possible that she has one of the BEST voices of our generation? Yeah…believe it.

This is also a girl who knows what direction she wants to go with her music. After putting together an entire album about a year ago that wasn’t the style of music Ariana wanted to be known for (think bubblegum anthems like her standalone single “Put Your Hearts Up”), Ariana decided to go back to the drawing board and take her time creating an entirely different album filled with the throwback R&B, pop magic she is passionate about.  As any obsessed fan, I have personally been dying of anticipation for this album all summer. So, without further adieu here is the long-awaited Pop Project Exclusive track-by-track album review of Yours Truly.

1.Honeymoon Avenue:

Let me begin by saying that I have loved, adored and obsessed over this song since the first time I heard it 2 years ago on YouTube. True Arianators will recognize a different arrangement than the original version planned for the first draft of the album. The new arrangement is a bit slower with a more emphasized R&B feel.  Guest vocals are featured from fellow Victorious alum/producer/friend of Ariana, Leon Thomas III.  This song is perfect. Yes it is a different arrangement, but the new arrangement is what makes the song. The intro and ending are so on point, and makes for a strong opening track to the album.

2. Baby, I

Fans will already be familiar with the second track on the album, as it is Ariana’s second single from the album which was released earlier this summer. The track starts out strong with almost a theatrical feel to it. The production is big, and Ariana’s vocals are even bigger. As with many tracks on this album, Ariana doesn’t just dabble in the “whistle register” of her range, she SLAYS it, and this song is a perfect example. Fun, upbeat, throwback sounding track.

3. Right There

This track was included in the pre-order of the album on iTunes, so most Arianators are familiar with this track as well. The track includes a feature from rapper Big Sean, which is perfection. Ariana has explained this song in earlier interviews as a sort of “follow up” or response to her first single “The Way”, which is logical based on the similarities that are heard between the arrangements of the tracks. Once again, the throwback 90’s R&B/Pop sound is laced throughout the track. Definitely a nice addition to the album.

4. Lovin’ It

Personally, I cannot stop singing this song. This is definitely one of those tracks on the album that make the “Mariah Carey” comparison come up, which is a HUGE compliment to Ariana. This song is pure throwback perfection. The lyrics are fun and the beat is infectious. I dare you to not get this song stuck in your head after listening. And let me just say that the bridge is nothing short of amazing….Is it obvious I am OBSESSED with this song?

5. Piano

It’s hard to explain this track. It is very heavy with, what else, piano…and I love it. The lyrics are super fun and just make you want to sing along. The track is one of those feel good songs about music and love and warm feelings and just….wonderfulness. Is that a word? Well now it is because that is what this song is. Wonderfulness.

6. Daydreamin’

Long time fans of Ariana will know that her concept for her original first album was very heavily influenced by 50s, du-wop sounding tracks. Daydreamin’ is one of the few tracks from the first draft of the album that made it to the final product. It features a definite du-wop throwback sound, and sounds like you should be listening to it in a soda shop while wearing a poodle skirt. I also must confess I have quoted this song on multiple social media pages for the past 2 years because I love it so much. Fun fact: the song is inspired by the real life romance of Ariana’s Nonna and Grandpa. That conversation at the end of the track? Yep, that is them. How cute!?

7. Tattooed Heart

Oh this song…I don’t even know what to say except that it is absolute perfection. Again it features the prominent 50s du-wop sound which I am obsessed with. This song just makes me think of a sock hop, dimmed lights, slow dancing, ribbons in my hair…and a ride home from a cute boy with slicked back hair and a 50s pink Chevy convertible. It’s everything I dream of and wish for. This song also features some of my favorite lyrics from the entire album. Just a lovely, lovely little song.

8. The Way

You know this song. You love this song. It is STILL killing it on Top 40 radio, and I am STILL jealous that Ariana got to kiss my man Mac in the video for it. Such a fun song.

9. You’ll Never Know

Rolling Stone premiered this track earlier this week, and I of course freaked out over it. The track features the 90s throwback sound as before heard in the album. What got me about this song is that this song dropped just around the time of an apparent break-up between Ariana and boyfriend Jai Brooks of YouTube fame. Although details of the breakup are still unknown, I like to think of this song as a bit of an anthem for Ariana in this situation. Very fun track.

10. Almost Is Never Enough

If there was one track on this album that I could see becoming a classic “ballad” to stand the test of time for years to come, this would be it. This song is gorgeous. Everything about it is gorgeous. The track includes a feature from The Wanted’s Nathan Sykes, whose voice meshes nicely with Ariana’s. The song was also recently featured in the motion picture The Mortal Instruments: The City of Bones, and appears on the soundtrack as an amended version. Ariana sings the hell out of this song, and just showcases her range and control so well. An absolutely beautiful song that I hope gains the recognition that it deserves…Grammys anyone?

11. Popular Song

Although I love this song for it’s upbeat sound and message, I have to admit that this track appearing on this album made me a bit disappointed. The track is primarily Mika’s track, and appears on Mika’s recent album as well. Did this really need to be included on this album? No. In my opinion it doesn’t fit with the other tracks on the album, and is a track that many Arianators already own. I feel that Ariana could have placed one of the other beloved songs from the original draft of the album that didn’t make the cut in this tracks place….But I guess we will all just have to deal.

12. Better Left Unsaid

This song in my opinion is the hidden gem of the album. The track starts out sweet and poppy like some of the others on the album. Soft-spoken lyrics backed by a theatrical arrangement, quickly and suddenly morphs into an almost rave/house music influenced chorus that makes you want to jump and fist pump with the best of them. This song is extremely catchy, fun and energetic. Lucky attendees of Ariana’s recent tour will especially love this song if they have seen her perform it live, and have experienced seeing Ariana’s hidden talent for doing full-out choreography in sky-high heels to the track…Her talents are just never-ending.

13. The Way-Spanglish (iTunes bonus Track)

Because I guess we needed this on the album?  Honestly I could take or leave this track because…I don’t know Spanish unless it seems on a Mexican restaurant menu. Sorry not sorry.

Overall

So, my overall thoughts on this album? It is everything I wanted it to be. It has old tracks I knew and loved from earlier years of the album process, as well as new tracks, and of course the two hit singles that were released earlier this year. Do I hate the fact that Popular Song is included on this album? Yes. Do I find the Spanglish version of The Way completely unnecessary and pointless? Yes. Do I think that she should have included some of the old fan favorites such as “Voodoo Love, Pink Champagne, Do You Love Me and Boyfriend Material?” YES….But do I also think that this album could possibly, fingers crossed, get Ariana a GRAMMY nomination for new artist?…I actually think so. If nothing else, this album, along with the Top 40 charting singles that have already been released from Ariana earlier this summer are enough to get her name out to those who may not know her music yet, and to show the world just how amazing her voice actually is. I mean…A REAL singer with REAL talent making an album with REAL instruments and without the use of autotune or gimmicks to cover up flaws? Where can you find that in today’s music industry?…Oh I know. Her name is Ariana Grande, and she is about to take over the world.

Rating: 9.5 bows out of 10.

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Selena Gomez makes the Stars Dance

Starsdance

The stars are aligning…and dancing…for 21 year old Selena Gomez’s fourth and possibly final studio album release, Stars Dance. Allow me to begin by saying that this is a dance album, with electronic pop, dance, dubstep inspired tracks. If you are expecting something different or groundbreaking, you won’t find it here. But if you were generally pleased with Selena’s previous musical efforts, (her sophomore dance track filled album A Year Without Rain especially) than Stars Dance will do it for you. Before you pick up your copy on July 23, check out this track by track review of the album brought to you by a girl who has had Selena Gomez herself touch her right arm in one of those awkward side hug…Yeah, I’m pretty legit.

Birthday:

The album begins with this upbeat, definitely dubstep inspired track, that celebrates the cliché variety of partying that only a Birthday can justify, which for recently turned 21 Selena is perfect. In the track, Selena taunts: “Tell ‘em that it’s my birthday” at least a hundred times, and wants you to “blow your dreams away with me”….Let’s play a game shall we? How many sexual innuendos can we find in hidden throughout this album. Ready?….Go. *Cue the never-ending awkward moaning in the background of this track.*

Slow Down:

As Selena’s second single, this track is a nice follow-up to the beaten like a dead horse Come and Get It. Dubstep breakdown and all, this is another upbeat dance track (like the entire album is). My favorite line of this entire song would have to be: “I’m good with mouth to mouth resuscitation, breathe me in breathe me out” (Clever Gomez, clever). The only annoying part of this song are the  shout outs to music producers “The Cataracts”. It makes me think of an eye condition, which is gross.

Stars Dance:

I absolutely love how this track begins. I’m a sucker for strings, so the orchestral opening was refreshing. The lyrics for this song are also really pretty, and almost haunting. “I can make the stars dance/Light up the moon/I can make the stars dance for you…” “Everything I touch turns to love…” SO pretty. This song is just very Selena. It’s the kind of song you expect her to sing and has the style that she is known for and executes well. Probably one of my favorites on the album.

Like A Champion:

Selena is a champion….because this song is hella catchy. The intro I could do without, but the beat of this is great. The track has a definite Jamaican/island feel to it that reminds me of a Rihanna song. The song’s just good, catchy, fun. An album standout? No.

Come and Get It:

Everyone on planet Earth, the moon, stars, and Jupiter has heard this damn song, and is now sick of it. Yeah it was good, the video was beautiful but, now we are done with it. Forever. Do you hear me Top 40 radio? DONE. Moving on……..

Forget Forever:

Remember when this song was leaked months ago as “Rule The World”? Yeah me too. A decent song, but very repetitive. I also think Selena should have stuck with the original title for this song instead of “Forget Forever”…it just fits better and makes more sense. Another game can be played with this album, called “What songs are about Justin D-Bag Bieber”. This one most likely is….It’s probably also one of the few songs on the album that isn’t Selena begging to get some (most likely from Bieber). Sorry not sorry. It’s the truth.

Save the Day:

Another one of my favorites from this album. Very upbeat and really catchy lyrics. Repetitive? Yes….but then again isn’t all dance music? The chorus of this song is the best part: “When the night starts slipping away, save the day.”…This song reminds me of when my old Walkman used to skip while playing a CD…”When the night starts slippin” x7481734817348374 times….But good nonetheless.

B.E.A.T.:

This track is all about just that, the beat. This song is a bit all over the place in that the elements change at least 5 times between the Pre-chorus, chorus and verses…The bridge is insane as well, and almost confusing….Good song, just confusing as hell. “Oh my God, this beat is crack, when I do this you do that.”…

Write Your Name:

This song reminds me of how little girls head over heels in love scribble their notebooks full of their wannabe husbands names….Don’t even pretend you haven’t done it too. The lyrics for this song are very pretty, especially in the bridge. Another one of my favorites from the album just because I feel like it is actually something behind all the electro-pop mumbo jumbo….Just as long as Selena is not writing “Bieber” across that heart of hers anytime soon. Don’t do it girl….

Undercover:

This song is HOT. Enough said…Also my absolute favorite on this album. Probably the most mature song on the album as well. I mean what do little kids think Selena is talking about when she says she wants to go “Undercover”….Come on. “Find me in the shadows, and pull the shades down…You don’t need no other lover, we can keep it undercover. I want to find a place where we can be alone in the dark. You can navigate me like a map you know by heart.”…I mean HELLO. The melody of this slays. The lyrics slay. This song just SLAYS this album. PS- Innuendos galore if you are still playing the game…

Love Will Remember:

Selena…..why did you not keep the voicemail intro for the album version? I mean it’s not like we don’t already know who this song is about. Irregardless, this song is for sure the “slow song” of the album, even though it isn’t even that slow or ballad-like. Personally this song just doesn’t do it for me. It sounds like it was made on a Casio from 1987, and the lyrics just aren’t cutting it. Sorry Selly G but I don’t want to hear your Bieber trouble . ”I still don’t know just how we screwed it up.”….Uh I do, Bieber is an idiot. Get back together with Nick Jonas. Ok? Thanks.

BONUS TRACKS:

Nobody Does It Like You:

Are you still playing the game? Good. This earns you about 7541823748 points. Although it’s most likely about Bieber, and considered a bonus track, this is also one of my favorite songs on this album. Favorite lyrics: “I wanna be your bad girl, you bring out my wild side. I wanna be your bad girl, you bring out my dark side.”

Music Feels Better:

This song reminds me of one of those quintessential pop songs from like 2002…but I like it. The pre-chorus and chorus are tickled with just enough production behind Selena to make it fun and poppy. A happy song, happy lyrics. Need a song to drive around with the windows down to? This is it.

UNOFFICIAL BONUS TRACK:

Sad Serenade:

Selena-Why was this not on your album? This song technically isn’t on any version of the album, but was leaked prior to the album release. The lyrics are heartbreaking as they are catchy: “It’s a sad, sad serenade for every broken heart tonight…” Find this online and download it to complete your Stars Dance experience. You’ll be glad you did.

So my overall thoughts on this album are complicated. Is it good? Yes. Do I like it? Yes. Did I pre-order it on iTunes? Yes. But could it have been better? Yes. I know Selena loves doing this type of music, and I know she is good at it and it works for her voice. But for this album I was almost wishing she would have done more of a revert back to traditional pop music and roots. Real instruments and less production, almost like “Who Says” style of music from her previous album. I also have an uneasy feeling with this upcoming tour of hers. As someone who has seen Selena in concert three times, I KNOW she can sing live, and can sing live well. But with these tracks, and all the choreography she has planned for this tour, I have a feeling audiences will be watching a dance recital set to backing tracks, while Selena lip-syncs into a sparkly headset microphone. No hate. No shade. Just truth.I just think that as a “final album”, Selena could have ended the musical aspect of her career a bit better. Regardless, the tracks on this album are very catchy, very fun and very upbeat. I know I, along with many other Selena fans will have these songs stuck in our heads for a while. Pick up a copy of the album July 23rd.

Rating: 7.5 bows out of 10.

Ariana Grande makes you say Baby I

BabyI

One thing that Ariana Grande is doing right with her music career is she is taking risks. Doing things that no other artist now has done, or is even capable to do. That being said, THIS SONG IS PERFECT! The throwback 90s sound to this track is reminiscent of her first single “The Way”, and is just so refreshing to hear on Top 40 radio once again. And as many others have before, I’m also going to make the Mariah comparison. I mean those whistle tones?! Name one other artist out right not besides Mariah and Ariana that can whistle tone like she does in this track and “The Way”….Just amazing. “Baby, I” was released July 22nd on iTunes at midnight, and is in the #2 position, meaning that Ariana now has not only one, but TWO songs in the top 20 on iTunes at the moment with “The Way” as well. Ariana Grande’s upcoming album is titled “Yours Truly” and has a release date of September 3rd, and has been three years in the making. Seriously, fans of throwback, authentic R&B/Pop goodness, do yourself a favor and get “Baby, I” on iTunes right now-Like now. It also sounds best when you’re wearing a giant pink bow, but that’s just my opinion.

 

Rating: 10 bows out of 10

 

Pop Project Featured Artist: Ariana Grande

Grande

Ah yes…Let us discuss one of my favorite people in the world (aside from Demi that is)…Ariana Grande. If you have not yet heard of this 19, soon to be 20 year old powerhouse of talent, then you’ve probably been living under a rock.

Ariana Grande is a singer/actress best known for her role as the redheaded, very “special”, spunky Cat Valentine on the beloved Nickelodeon comedy Victorious.  Grande portrayed the role of Cat on the show from 2010 until the show’s abrupt end in early 2013.

Now….Ariana is no one trick pony, and neither is her hair. She ditches the red locks when she is not playing Cat, and is hard at work on her music career. Let me tell you…this girl can SING. Think voices of angels, mixed with Mariah Carey, and a dash of fierceness and power of some of the oldschool female “greats” in music…That’s Ariana. Don’t believe me? Check out her Youtube channel, “ohsnapitzari”, and take a listen to some of her covers and acapella work, (her “Emotions” cover anyone? Crazyness,), as well as her recent collaboration with singer Mika.

Ariana has recently released her hit single “The Way” featuring Mac Miller.  The song has routinely been in outstanding standing on the charts, as well as received positive feedback and love from mainstream radio play.  Her debut album, reportedly titled “Daydreamin’” or “Honeymoon Avenue” as of recently, is scheduled to drop in August under Republic Records.

Upcoming appearances include Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on June 14th.  As the “Pop Project Featured Artist of the Week”, you KNOW we love her here, and can’t wait for her upcoming projects. And just between us…let’s just say we think she will make our show even more “popular” in the upcoming season… 😉

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