If you are mildly in touch with pop-culture you will know who Ariana Grande is. She had red hair for a bit, she acts like a cute, clueless girl for TV shows and she seems to have a set of pipes on her that can push out a tune or two. So when it was announced that she was the latest child television star to gain a record deal, I thought that possibly she could be the one to actually make something worthwhile out of it. Sadly this album has turned into another disappointment.
When I heard the title I expected an album of soppy love songs, and it is an album of love songs, but soppy? Not particularly. There are strings and pianos and her voice floating through them, but there's also hip-hop beats and vocal distortion like something out of a Vampire Weekend album. And that's only the first track. I would have liked that track, if it hadn't been for the tacky street noises at the start being drowned out by a barbershop quartet. This basically set the theme for the entire album, it's not soppy love songs, it's tacky love songs with 90s RnB beats thrown in and weird breakdowns in the middle of some songs. I can see what they wanted to do with this album, she wanted beautiful songs telling stories of romance and love, and a throwback to her youth, and something ground-breaking. But you can't have all that, so instead she has ended up with a detached mess of songs which barely work on their own.
Her label has taken the typical approach when it comes to this sort of situation; they've thrown a bunch of songs from other writers at Grande, and put her as the face and voice behind them, making her the latestSelena Gomez, but with a voice that is mildly special. I have nothing against this process, but you'd be expecting some better songs to come out of it. At some point you think someone would have put their hand up and said "How many songs is it ok to start off with her waffling about on a few notes cutely?" This happens in half the album and frankly it gets boring. In reality the whole album does, it's a misguided attempt at taking something old and making it new.
There are a few tracks that do standout, Piano is an obvious choice for the next single, being upbeat and catchy, and the original single The Way is still mildly bearable, even with her "exciting" and "special" whistle tones. Another stand out track is Tattooed Heart, simply because it best displays her vocal skills without covering it up with huge amounts of unnecessary instrumentation. It's her attempt at Beyonce's Love On Topin a way, just a simple song about love which just keeps building. I am in no way saying that this song is on Beyonce's level, it's not, and I doubt anything Ariana Grande does will ever reach that level, but she is trying.
In the end that's what I think about this album; she tried. It's not great, it's not bad. It's just an album of weird pop music catering to a very specified audience. Grande is definitely talented, but right now everything is not there when it needs to be.
In the mid to late 90's, when grunge began to wither away and MTV strived to find the next easy to access label to attach to new batch of up and coming rock bands, global attention started to shine on the Alt Rock scene.
The I Love The 90s Tour returns to Auckland next year March 23rd at Auckland’s Spark Arena, with a completely off the chain lineup featuring classic Hip Hop crew Naughty by Nature. Vin Rock from the Grammy Award winning rap group speaks fondly of this country and love of our people.
The Soundsplash Festival is returning to Raglan in January 2018. Local reggae favourites Katchafire are returning to feature on the bill. We sent a few questions over to lead vocalist Logan Bell ahead of the festival.
Following 2015’s Kitty, Daisy & Lewis'The Third', the sibling trio are back stronger than ever, harnessing their ability to create pop-infused soul, blues, rock n roll and a large mix of genres to perfection, in the shape of their fourth studio album, Superscope.
Kylie Price has just released her new album Bones. Last week she appeared on theNZ Entertainment Podcast, where she sang a new song I Dont Want To Go off the album while talking shop about her dream gig to play with Ed Sheeran and her Philipino roots.
Last week I caught up withPeter Hook ahead of returning down under for Australasian leg of the Joy Division and New Order Substance tour. We had a great chat about the spirit of punk, what it takes to write a book and why shows like the X-factor are so unhealthy…
Long established as one of New Zealand’s finest acts, South Pacific reggae-soul legends, The Black Seeds are set to tour the country in September, following the release of their long awaited 6th studio album Fabric, (out today - Friday September 8th).
Jacqueline Nalpant is a Booking Agent for the Paradigm Talent Agency, and is heading to New Zealand early next month where she'll be one of the speakers for the Going Global Music Summit (Friday 1st & Saturday 2nd September at Roundhead Studios, Auckland).
Since making her musical debut with her song Drift early last year, fast attracting a solid fan base and over 1 million plays across Spotify and Soundcloud in just a few months, Madeline North, better known by her musical moniker So Below, has once again blessed us with a moodier, masterful electro-pop banger, titled Ruin.
Since forming in 1998, the Antwerp, Belgium based trio Triggerfinger have long become a mainstay on the rock scene, building a solid reputation across Europe, the US, Canada and beyond, as one of the hardest-driving and sharpest dressing bands around.
Popular metalcore group Northlane are on their way to New Zealand. The Sydney band are touring North America taking in countries like Chile and Mexico as they head our way down-under next month to play Wellington’s San Fran then Auckland at the iconic Kings Arms.
Returning to New Zealand for the first time in three years, Australian metalcore band In Hearts Wake are on their way to our shores next month for a quick run of shows supporting their label cohorts Northlane.
Courtney Marie Andrews has landed in New Zealand, and set to play two concerts this week with Joe Pug - tonight at San Fran in Wellington (Wed July 19) and tomorrow night at The Tuning Fork in Auckland (Thu July 20).
Auckland two-piece Skinny Hobos, Alex Elvis and Texas Holdom, are heading on a 5 date New Zealand tour with headliners Decades, Bakers Eddy and Dead Favours. Kicking off tonight in Hamilton (July 14), the tour will also take them to Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and finishes up in Dunedin.
Have you ever considered sharing your most personal experiences with the entire world? Well come this Friday 14th July, that’s what Emma Cameron, the rocking front-woman of kiwi band Decades is about to do, when they release their long-awaited full length debut album, The Truth And Other People, so we sat down with the cheerful front woman to discover just what truth this album reveals..
Whilst Sonny Landreth is a well known slide-guitar master, zydeco enthusiast and phenomenal blues legend, what you may not know about him, is that he is one of the nicest gentlemen in the entire universe.
He was always the boy next door type energy, that type of person you just always wanted to be around. From day one, Shay Taylor has always been one to break the mold and live life in such a vibrant and contagious manner, that no matter who he spoke to, they walked away feeling great!
Anthonie Tonnon is taking his new Extended Player and single to Australia, and to New Zealand towns that missed the first run of dates, or sold out too quickly. He’ll also be appearing at three summer festivals this February.
After a stand of three Auckland concerts that sold out in minutes in January, Connan Mockasin is hitting the road across Aotearoa for the first time in eight years this summer for a select run of headline shows.
They immediately sold out Sydney and Melbourne dates earlier this year, and now LCD Soundsystem are returning to Australia and New Zealand for their biggest headline shows ever this summer – touring February 2018!