2007: Fierce Music
So these were the albums (in no particular order) this past year that received the official "stamp of fiercness" from yours truly.
Hilary Duff - Dignity: Never in a million years did I think I would praising a Hilary Duff album. Who's next, Hannah Montana? lol Anyhoo, this album is Hilary's coming of age album. Long gong is the cute little girl that conquered the Disney crowd a few years back. Instead we have a sexy, woman who isn't afraid to ask her socialite panty-less peers "Where's your dignity"? The album is an electropop/dance romp from start to finish with surprisingly personal lyrics that address her recent highly publicized relationships with boys (Play With Fire), the paparrazzi (Dreamer), and even her family (Gypsy Woman). Hilary surpasses all expectations and delivers a phenomenal album......'with love'!
Deborah Cox - Destination Moon: I fell in love with this album during my road trip to Toronto this summer. Who would have thought a jazz album of Dinah Washigton covers would make such great car music? I am not much of a jazz fan but Ms. Cox belts out these tunes with a touch of RnB flare giving them a very contemporary sound. One might say this is the album's downfall, but I personally love Deborah's take on all of these timeless classics! Props to Deb for not being afraid to step away from the dancefloor for a little bit.
Jes - Disconnect: WOW! WOW! WOW! Words cannot express how much I fell in love with this album. Jes, originally part of the indie rock scene, found herself suddenly working with some of the biggest names in dance a few years back (DJ Tiesto, D:Fuse, Gabriel & Dresden). As a result, her first solo album is a hybrid of her indie rock roots and her current electronica influences. I guess you could describe her music as being "rocktronica". The uptempo songs are mesmerizing with the layers of synths and guitars along with Jes's distinct voince and insightful lyrics. She really shines though on the downtempo tracks like "Stronger", that have a sound very reminiscent of acts like the Sneaker Pimps from the late 90's. The album is brilliant and I can't wait for more!
Rihanna - Good Girl Gone Bad: Most people were probably quick to write Rihanna off as a one hit wonder, but three albums later and a slew of hit singles forever engraved in pop culture, she just seems to keep getting better. This album is as catchy and addictive as you might suspect. Rihanna successfully dabbles in pop, RnB, and dance to create one of the most staisfying mainstream albums of the year. I'll stand under her umbrella (ella, ella, ella) any day of the week!
Ultra Naté - Grime Silk Thunder: It's always frustrating for the fans when an artist takes 6 years to record a new album, but as in Ultra's case, the time was well spent. As with her previous studio albums, Grime Silk Thunder sucessfully captures a particular mood and theme that most artists are unable to create. This album is not only about the 6 year process that took to make it but Ultra's incredible journey as an international recording artist since 1989. The album is a journey in which the listener gets to visit past classics reinvented for 2007 (Scandal), smooth Moroder-esque electronic anthems (Love's The Only Drug, Automatic) and the classic house/soul sound Ultra Naté is known for (Give It All You Got, Getaway).
Sophie Ellis Bextor - Trip The Light Fantastic: Although this album failed to have the commercial impact her debut album did back in 2001, fans around the world will agree this is her best and most cohesive work yet. It is a collection of sophisticated yet fun pop songs. As usual, the lyrics are quirky at times (Catch You, Me And My Imagination) and absolutely sincere and touching elsewhere (Today The Sun's On Us).
Britney Spears - Blackout: I was always a casual Britney fan. Unlike her ex-teen peers though, Britney never tried to pretend she was a real "artist". If anything, Blackout is Britney's 100% complete embracing of her trailer trash roots and I fucking love it. The album plays like a coked up stripper's soundtrack. The album is just so infectious from start to finish that one can overlook the fact that Britney's voice is so over produced it might as well be a robot singing. It's ironic that one of the best pop albums of the year would come from one of the most troubled celebrities of the year! Talk about multi-tasking!
Sugababes - Change: It's quite rare for a girl group to experience three member changes and be on their fifth studio album that is shaping up to be their most successful yet. Heidi, Keisha and Amelle deliver one of the most catchiest and brilliant pop albums of the year. The girls harmonize perfectly with each voice complimenting one another as they flawlessly flow from ballads (Change, Back When) to upbeat rock/pop (About You Now, My Love Is Pink, Never Gonna Dance Again). They remain the UK's "little secret" but after the release of this album overseas I happened to notice various US music publications praising the album. Let's hope that after all of these years the girls finally conquer the US.
Siobhan Donaghy - Ghosts: Speaking of the Sugababes, Siobhan was one of the original members from 2000-2001. She left the group and recorded a flop solo album in 2003. Well, she signed a new record deal this past year and while the album was another flop, it showed what absolute brilliance is lingering in this young woman. "Ghost" is an appropriate title as so many tracks seem to haunt you with Siobahn's eerie, dark and melancholy delivery. It's rare to see a singer go solo and see that he/she really did have a musical vision that simply did not agree with that of the former band.
Offer Nissim - Forever Tel Aviv: This album technically shouldn't count since it is a DJ mixed compilation but considering so many of Offer Nissim's original productions appear on this double disc and the fact it was the SOUNDTRACK of possibly my best summer ever, I couldn't forget about it. Now this is what dance music is about!