Tag: Pop

2000, Music

Sing When You’re Winning (2000) by Robbie Williams

It is one of the strangest musical careers of our time, that Robbie Williams was perhaps the biggest star in the UK, for like nearly a decade, and was just a guy with some minor hits in North America. It’s something that has happened over and over and over again – with British stars failing …

1970, Music

Close to You (1970) by Carpenters

I know the Carpenters by reputation and a few of their hits, only. The title track and a few other songs of theirs were big enough to find their way into pop culture. (For example, the title track has been used on The Simpsons.) Rockist orthodoxy has it that they are not very good – …

1995, Music

Dreaming of You (1995) by Selena

I remember the singles from the music videos and the ether, I guess, but that was a bit of a surprise to me. Frankly, all I remembered about Selena was that she died young. Like anyone who died young, there has been a lot of hagiographic “what if” since. But I’ve paid little attention to …

1990, Music

Step by Step (1990) by New Kids on the Block

New Kids on the Block make subsequent boy bands sound sophisticated. Maurice Starr’s songs on their earlier records show a level of contempt for their fans that later boy band songwriters mostly avoided. (Both musically, in how unsophisticated and imitative his songs and musical ideas are and, especially, lyrically, as he realized that teens don’t …

1975, Music

Main Course (1975) by Bee Gees

This album is considered a bit of a landmark in the Bee Gees catalogue because it marks the transition (or the beginning of the transition?) from their earlier baroque pop sound to their disco sound, as well as the introduction of Barry’s falsetto. This is as far as I know one of their albums.Personally, I’m …

2000, Music

Ooops!…I Did It Again (2000) by Britney Spears

A lot of people think pop music is supposed to be ephemeral, disposable. I guess that’s one reason I don’t like so much of it. One of my criteria for deciding whether or not something is “great” is transcendence. And, if pop music is supposed to be disposable, it should be very hard for it …

1985, Music

No Jacket Required (1985) by Phil Collins

The more I listen to Phil Collins’ solo work – and, to a lesser extent, post-Gabriel Genesis – the more I have come to respect him, both as a performer and, especially, as a songwriter songwriter. His sense of melody is really strong and his lyrics are definitely above average. I know from Genesis that …

1999, Music

Rainbow (1999) by Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey might be the best female pop singer of all time, if we go by technical ability. (I say ‘female’ not to perpetuate gender divisions but only to distinguish her from the man I consider the greatest popular music vocalist in history, who is not female.) It’s this record that has brought me to …

1994, Music

CrazySexyCool (1994) by TLC

I was 13 when this came out but I was already sort of aware of manufactured pop music. I already sort of got that the Monkees hadn’t evolved like the other bands I listened to, and I was sort of aware that some of the oldies music I listened wasn’t made the same way. I …

1994, Music

Living Under June (1994) by Jann Arden

Before I get to my review, I just wanted to mention that my experience of this album was disrupted. I was listening to it on Google Play but when I went back for my second listen it had just disappeared. Vanished without a trace. I assume the licensing agreement expired but I don’t know what …

1979, Music

Off the Wall (1979) by Michael Jackson

I was listening to this record and I was struck once again by the fact that I just don’t like Michael Jackson. I was so struck by this that I posted a crude joke about him on my podcast’s social media which I will refrain from including in this review because it’s both not the …

1999, Music

Millennium (1999) by Backstreet Boys

I hated the Backstreet Boys as a teenager – they representative everything I thought was wrong with modern music because they didn’t write their own music, they didn’t play any instruments, they produced music that seemed like pablum, they were successful in part because of their looks, and they seemed to have no agency because …

1979, Music

Bad Girls (1979) by Donna Summer

I do not like disco. I do not like disco for both intellectual reasons and emotional ones. My intellectual reasons? Disco, to me, sounds like robotic, neutered, safe funk where everything musically interesting within funk has been abandoned to emphasize repetitiveness and sameness. My emotional reasons are more complex. I am pretty self-reflective and can …

1984, Music

Footloose Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1984)

I don’t review soundtracks normally for at least two reasons: normally they are not entirely composed of original music and they are not culturally significant enough – i.e. some kids probably bought it but the rest of us likely ignored it. But this one, well it is composed of original music, to the best of …

1998, Music

I’ve Been Expecting You (1998)

I know basically nothing about Robbie Williams because I am Canadian. I read that he was unbelievably successful in the UK during his solo career but, like so many UK artists, he didn’t quite translate to North America. Yes, he’s had the odd hit, but nothing compared to the dominance he’s had in the UK. …

1983, Music

North of a Miracle (1983) by Nick Heyward

I know literally nothing of Haircut 100. I first heard about them in a Billboard chart book I had growing up, and that’s as far as it got. I don’t know what they sound like, as I think they were one of those UK bands which just never translated to a North American audience. So …

1983, Music

She’s So Unusual (1983) by Cyndi Lauper

I have heard “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” way too many times and seen the video way too many times. I can’t say I’ve ever liked the song but at some point it became annoying. (And it doesn’t help that Weird Al’s “Girls Just Want to Have Lunch” is on the lazy side.) And, …

1963, Music

Surfer Girl (1963) by The Beach Boys

Like every early Beach Boys album, this is a short collection of an incredibly inconsistent set of songs which, on the one hand, show off Brian Wilson’s increasingly elaborate vocal arrangements and increasing compositional sophistication and, on the other, pad things out with songs so inane or derivative you want to burn the record. The …

1983, Music

An Innocent Man (1983) by Billy Joel

On this album Billy Joel makes me think he’s the pop version of Aaron Copland (in his most Americana phase) – an eminently talented musician who thinks that the best music is the music the people like, not the music he is fully capable of writing if he were more of a snob. I side …