‘Letting Go (Dutty Love)’ Sean Kingston feat. Nicki Minaj

Rating: A-

Sean Kingston has been the king of the summer for a few years now. First, his number 1 hit ‘Beautiful Girls’ ruled the summer charts in 2007 and last year his top 5 hit ‘Fire Burning’ was all over the radio. His sophomore studio album ‘Ready’ was a commercial failure, so after a hit to ego Sean is back with ‘Letting Go (Dutty Love)’-the new single from his third album due out later this year. Not only has he created the perfect island groove for the airwaves this summer, but he also called on current it girl Nicki Minaj to bring her infamous personality to the track. Good Beat + Catchy Chorus + High Profile Featured Artist = Summer Smash.

Before anything else is said it must be stated that the beat to this song is almost identical to Rihanna’s ‘Te Amo’, which is currently being serviced to European radio. I probably would have given the song an A if it weren’t so obvious that the beat is almost identical to another song. What’s even worse is that the public will think Rihanna copied Sean when/if ‘Te Amo’ is serviced to America, even though ‘Te Amo’ came out in November. Everyone takes ideas from each other, but it should never be this clear to the audience. Besides that, the song is perfect pop. The island feel of the song fits well with the island persona that Sean has created (even though he doesn’t speak with the accent he so strongly sings with, I’ll pretend its real). Music has always taken a lean towards island sounds in the summer, so it doesn’t surprise me that Sean would release this now.

Nicki Minaj even takes a few notes from Sean by adding her own island accent during the song. Nicki reinvents herself for every feature that she is in, which keeps her interesting and entertaining. I was afraid that she would become washed up with so many features, but she has found a good way to prevent that from happening. I actually look forward to a song if I know that Nicki is in it. This is also a pretty big feature for her considering she has over a minute of song time. Sean is a pretty smart guy for adding her because it will give him more airplay on the R&B stations. The pop stations will eat this song up, because they have shown a lot of love to Sean in the past. His main audience is with the pop stations.

Sean doesn’t have a good voice in my opinion. I think his accent distracts the audience from the fact that he has no vocal talent and relies solely on auto-tune to get by. Still, I have to give him credit for writing the song. He knows how to write a hit, considering the fact that he has written all of his top 10 hits. The song will definitely hit the top 10. With the catchy hook (dutty-dutty-dutty-dum-dum), and the infectious verse from Nicki the song could possibly hit the top 5. This is the big hit that both of them could use right now, especially Sean who failed to hit the top 10 with his Justin Bieber collaboration. Another contender for the summer anthem…

A Change of Pace?

This week Drake’s debut album, ‘Thank Me Later’, comes out. Besides the fact that it is receiving rave reviews from the critics, the album has been met with high expectations of selling. After one day Billboard predicts that the album could pull in 450-475 thousand albums this week alone. With all the promotion that Drake has going on this week we could see the album go higher. I have been saying that I think the album could sell between 700-800 this week and I am going to stick to that. With numbers like this Drake could see himself having the highest first-week album sales of the year! His song ‘Up All Night’ (which is not even a single yet) has reached number 15 on the itunes store. WIth three official singles out and more to be released, its safe to say that Drake will easily surpass 1,000,000 copies by the end of July. Things can only go out from here for the Young Money rapper!

‘Rose Colored Glasses’ Kelly Rowland

Rating: B

A few weeks ago when I reviewed ‘Commander’ I stated that it was the first single from Kelly Rowland’s third studio album due out on September 14th. Turns out that she and her record label have decided to take a different route for the US Market. This could be a good thing considering the song did sell well on itunes its first week, but like I said in the previous review, Kelly has not had much luck in the US as a solo artist. ‘Rose Colored Glasses’ is one of the two singles set to be released in the US. The song will be sent to the mainstream/top 40 radio stations at the end of the month, while the other will be sent to the R&B stations. Sounds like a good plan, but the real question is if it will work.

The song was produced by Dr.Luke and written by Ester Dean. Both have seen major success this year with each writing or producing at least one number 1 hit this year. Kelly is not playing around with this album by getting such successful artist to work with her, sadly though they are not giving their best work to her. The song is by no means horrible, but it is not outstanding either. The drum lead beat sounds very similar to every beat that Ryan Tedder has made (think of ‘Halo’ or ‘Bleeding Love’). Dr.Luke seems to be recycling beat a lot lately, which is making the radio more annoying than it normally is because so many pop songs are copying each other. Ester Dean is proving herself to be a great songwriter. She is very versatile, and that’s the mark of a good songwriter. She can write both pop and R&B and sound convincing in both formats. Her writer is good on the song, even though I think the whole idea of looking through rose-colored glasses is corny.

Kelly sounds good, as always. She has a good way to sound convincing on the song even though she did not write it. It is sad that most artist have people writing songs for them today, but I am not going to knock someone down for it if they sound convincing on the song. Obviously Kelly had a personal connection with the song, and that’s evident in her delivery. Still, there is something about Kelly that just doesn’t fit. It’s still going to take me a while to accept Kelly as a pop artist, so that may be where the problem lies. I would rather listen to ‘Commander’ than this, so I’m hoping that he label will eventually release it in the US. It’s hard for me to figure out how well this song will do on the charts. The song could potentially land in the Top 10, since it has such a likable formula, but most of the will lie in the radios hands. If US radio decides to finally accept Kelly that we could see a very successful time period for her, but that is very uncertain given the fate of her last two albums. ‘Rose Colored Glasses’ may not be the best song that has been released, but I’m sure a good handful of people will love it, and that could carry the song into success.

‘Cooler Than Me’ Mike Posner

Rating: B-

Up until this point Mike Posner has been a mix-tape artist. He is now signed to J Records, who has a host of high profile performers such as Alicia Keys. I would say he is in good hands compared to other labels that only focus on two-three artists, but that’s a topic for another day. ‘Cooler Than Me’ is the first single off of his debut album that is going to be released later this year. The 80’s influenced pop is becoming a hit. The song is currently number 31 on the Billboard Hot 100, and has moved up to number 12 in the itunes chart this past week. It is looking like Posner is going to have a top 10 hit on his hands, but is the song really that good?

Posner has good charisma during the song and I think he delivers it well. He has an interesting voice because its not strong, but I would not say its weak. It is somewhere in between which is fine but it limits what your able to do (just look at Rihanna). I am wondering how his other singles are going to sound though. Singers with unique voices can only do so much before it either gets annoying or all sounds the same, so I am interested in seeing what he’ll do. As for this song I think he sounds great. There is no need for amazing vocals here and in no way do I think he over did it.

The problem I that this sounds like something I have heard before. Hearing the song made me immediately think of Sam Sparro’s song ‘Black and Gold’ from 2008. The two have almost the same voices and the songs are very similar. By no way am I suggesting that Posner copied Sparro, but there is a clear similarity between the two. ‘Cooler Than Me’ just sounds like it has been done before and if Posner is looking for success than he has found it. With a catchy chorus and easy verses the song will do fine on the radio. There is a lot of repeating in the song, which I find annoying. I hate when people repeat the first verse and think that it’s qualified to be a second verse. Like I said though the radio will eat this song up.

Overall the song is a decent listen. You won’t be blown away, but you wont hate it at first listen. In time I’m sure we will see if Posner is a one hit wonder or if he is here to stay. I’d lean more towards 1 hit wonder, but I wouldn’t mind being wrong. Only time will tell.

‘Dynamite’ Taio Cruz

Rating: B+

Taio Cruz is one of the newest imports from the UK to the American music market. As a producer/songwriter/solo-artist over seas he is a force to be reckoned with. His American debut album, ‘Rokstarr’, was released this past week. It seems that Taio is poised to make a big mark in America also. His first single ‘Break Your Heart’ was number one for one week back in April. After this (surprising) success Taio decided to follow-up the success of ‘Break Your Heart’ with the electro-pop song ‘Dynamite’.

First I’m going to get this out of the way: the verses to this song are some of the worst that I have heard. The lyrics are juvenile and have honestly been heard before. Talking about going to the dance floor with you crew and dancing in nothing revolutionary. Repeating the last word of every line is only done to waste time. Taio has heavy auto-tune during the verses, which also don’t help his cause. From the sound of this you would assume that I do not like the song, but the songs saving grace is the chorus.

There is a saying that nothing is better than a good chorus and this song proves it. This is pure pop perfection. The great thing about this chorus is its ability to catch on with out repeat itself a thousand times. Most songs repeat the chorus over and over again, which allows them to stick. The melody is just perfect, which is the real reason the song will do good on the radio. With a cascading piano line and chiming synth line, the chorus builds up the song every time it occurs. It is one of those choruses that is perfect to sing to driving in the car, and that’s exactly what pop music’s goal should be. Taio also has some good personality on the song with a bit of confidence through out the song.

A few posts ago I spoke about the ‘summer song’ and I wondered who it would be. I think that ‘Dynamite’ has good chance to be victor. Taio may not be one of the most original artists out today but he clear has a grasp on what he is good at. This just proves that no one can do dance-pop music like Europeans. Maybe it is because of their confidence or their familiarity with the genre, but whatever it is it worst. Hopefully Taio will see some stellar album sales with his first two singles being as strong as they were. It was originally rumored that the second single would be ‘Dirty Picture’ featuring Ke$ha, which would have set the charts ablaze since Ke$ha is the new ‘it’ girl. Now hearing ‘Dynamite’ I am happy that Taio a song that will actually make the radio a little more enjoyable.

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