December 27, 2008

2008: RXolondon



If it were up to me, I'd attempt some career resuscitation... before you get all agitated by the disses, note that I don't bother doing this with artists I hate. Well, I sort of hate Prince now, but he used to be my boyfriend.

Before I begin,
let me say that Beyonce Jay-Z needs to GO AWAY and Rihanna needs to end her attempt to rival Robyn for the most re-releases of an album.

REM. Another meh album from the band in 2008. Their previous disk (title?) was too meandering and soft. No balls. The new Accelerate was a reaction to that, which is a recipe for doom. It tried too hard to be rockish and raw. We all know what needs to happen: they need to break up, at least for awhile. I get the sense they're no longer friends, but business associates, albeit friendly ones. M Stipe needs to be challenged to carry out his own vision for a solo album. Having said that, if they stay together, Bill Berry needs to return. Then the band needs to run off to a rural North Carolina studio (NOT Athens GA, where their legend looms too strong) with some new collaborators.

Prince. An album is due in 2009 and I could care less. He needs: 1) a lesson in humility and 2) an A&R who reigns him in. He needs clever art and videos to further define him for the post-1999 era. No more novelty hits tours: anyone who thinks Prince is still good need only hear the full length right-down-to-the-ground version of Little Red Corvette to know the inspiration is shot. In fact, if you want to hear a great Prince album, just play Oracular Specuacular by MGMT and rock out with u'r cock out. Finally - and most importantly - Prince needs to stop antagonizing his fans - he has done irreparable damage with the lawsuits and threats. A bitter purple pill.

Madonna. First, removed the chicken cutlets from your face, close your legs and stop being a craven cougar. Desperation is a respect-killer. You are not a boxer, your vajayjay is not a sugar bowl and, most importantly, you are not Lourdes. Madonna has succeeded all these years by confounding expectation. Hard Candy represents the first time she really 1) repeated herself (visually and musically) and 2) removed herself from the artistic process. For her next disc - her only commodity is music - she needs to go deep and beautiful. One would hope a divorce would elicit some of the self-examination that made Like A Prayer and Ray Of Light such fine examples of commerce merged with art. All Madonna albums need an expressive dance-the-pain-away moment, but The Rebounder needs to take her time and craft ten songs that offer something heavier than "watch my booty get down." It's that simple. And Lady, Steven Klein has become a tired, pisspoor conduit for your visual image. Divorce him too.

Keane. Do not promote your album by saying months in advance that it's the best thing you've ever done. That sets up unruly expectations. And if you extol the greatness of collaborations with Jon Brion and Stuart Price, make sure their influence is evident and that it extends beyond one song. And finally, stop gilding the lily. Perfect Symmetry was overbaked. The singles were unique and truly exhilarating, but the deep cuts tended toward same-iness in arrangements - a sound marked by fussy wall-o-noise arrangements. I'd also suggest the fantastic Tim Rice Oxley write about very specific topics. He can be a bit vague.

Janet Jackson. Three shit albums in a row: give up and become a mom. Really, spare us your exploding cooch and your dribbling lips and your ill fitting space-age spandex and fauxhawks. Truth is that Janet will return to Jam and Lewis for her next record. I've said it before, Janet needs to ditch that horny pug of a boyfriend and get politically active, writing songs about the "new agenda."

Kylie Minogue. I did not intend to do something about The Minogue. I liked her last CD. Tricky Dick [I bet he hates that -sorry Richard] made a suggestion that, for Kylie's 11th album, she should decamp to her native Australia and produce cuts with indie-disco kids Cut Copy. I say the other half should be done with the Kylie-suckled Greg Kurstin. Two producers max and one writing moment in New Zealand with Pip from Ladyhawke to add an all-girl thrill. Sounds like a plan to me.

15 comments:

Justin said...

I think Kylie really needs to step away or do something that's more light - in the vein of Light Years, but less camp, and I'll still keep my fingers crossed for a jazz record one day.

As for the others, I couldn't agree more.

Phil said...

Ladyhawke's album is the one Kylie should have done. And Pip did it with Greg Kurstin, Hannah Robinson, Pascal Gabriel, all the songwriters Kylie should be working with...

Janet's "exploding cooch" has just made me choke on my sherry

Shane Percy said...

Fully agree. Mostly about Madonna. Ew.

John said...

SO on point. Especially Prince. It's tough when you have to level with an ex, isn't it?

hatzij said...

XO, couldn't agree more! Although I did think the R.E.M. album had 2 or 3 great moments.

I really loved Kylie's X but it suffered from too many cooks. Spot on about Ladyhawke, the other place to turn would be Australia's Sneaky Sound System, who this year released the best Kylie album since Fever, simply called 2. Check it out!

DanProject76 said...

Prince needs a bloody slap, to see sense about fans, to stop knocking on people's doors with his God-bothering magazines and to be micromanaged for a bit. He's the solo artist I have the most music by and I love him but wish he could do uit again. Occasional glimpses of clever in ever album but he needs that big one badly.

Madonna needs to get some nice appropriate clothes and stop thinking she is a MILF.

I disagree about Keane as it was their best work.

I think Janet shouls just stop. She's not really got a voice and her MILFy delusions made me queasy. I have all of her albums up to when it all went bad and love them so like you said before I think a Jam & Lewis reunion is needed.

Kylie just needs focus, not getting 150 songs off different people, changing a few words and claiming she co-wrote them. The ones off X that she was more involved in were all good so she has the ability. I liked most of X very much but it was more mixtape than album.

xolondon said...

X was like a Greatest Hits record for a slightly lesser artist, like... Dannii!

Keane's new album had nothing that touched Your Eyes Open. End of!

Which reminds me that I think the cover of the year is Spiraling. I like Keane's version but I think the Sugababe's version revealed what a beautiful song lurks underneath the Bowie flash. The melody on that song IS one of their finest.

I am off to add that to my This'n'that post.

countpopula said...

Poor Sugababes. I have all their albums, and think this may be their best, cohesive statement. I don't really understand all the hating from supposed "fans", especially in the UK where the Amelle transition seemed to go OK. Now another year on and people say it's a problem. Whatever. Mutya may have a good voice, but her attitude seemed to need an adjustment. I have actually been rather impressed with Amelle as of late. Their live performances show them to have some real talent.

Back to the artists here, I generally applaud your criticisms. There are some problems though:

1)I don't think Bill Berry is ever coming back. That brain thing really scared him, and he is gone, gone, gone. It may not be REM's best work, but it shows there is still a heart beating.

2)Prince will never be reigned in by an A&R, nor will he learn humility. HE is Prince, and HE will be with us until the end of time in whatever way HE chooses to.

3)It may take more than a Jam & Lewis reunion to get Janet back on track, although losing her boytoy might be a start.

People seem to be a bit harsh on Keane, but I just don't feel the same, I guess. I think there are some very nice, affirming moments on PS, but MAYBE they should lose the guitar? I think the piano/drum sound is what made them kind of unique and special.

As for Madonna & Kylie, I think they are generally smart enough to heed some advice given here, and are up for changes when necessary. It would be nice if Kylie could work with Steve Anderson again, as I think they did some tremendous stuff together. I would also suggest William Orbit, as No More Rain was the closest Kylie has come to that sound (thanks to Greg Kurstin--very Beautiful Stranger). Why not Richard X too--the sample of his new Saint Etienne produced single would suit Kylie VERY well.

Madonna always seems to me as somebody who reaches out to new talent, which is why Timbaland and Pharrell were so safe and Hard Candy so disappointing. Bloodshy & Avant would be interesting, as they would probably take the more experimental side of what they've done with Britney & amp it up a bit for Madge while retaining pop sensibility. Royksopp would also be a neat collab. Just a thought.

Now DO WHAT WE SAY!

D'luv said...

I like Keane's album, but like what happens with many artists, I just feel the luster has worn off.

I'm sure for them, personally, too. I don't anticipate they'll stay together for too many years.

El MarvelOso said...

Agreed on Beyonce Jay-Z.

REM - never really cared about them.

Prince is just an ass. No interest in him any longer.

Madonna has to stop worrying about appealing to the young crowd. Her attempts seem desperate. She should go back to being an artist.

Keane didn't interest me this time.

I never want to hear Janet moan on albums again. She should do a throwback album with JJ & TL.

Kylie - Goldfrapp!

zen~ said...

Mate, I am surprised at how often we think alike! I was only thinkin' yesterday that Kylie should work with fellow Austral(asians). Her finest non-album moment belongs with Gerling on 'G-House Music'. How thrilling is that song? No more Swedes and Brits at the helm, purleeze.

Madonna needs to ring Patrick Leonard and Rick Nowells...fast! They are great writing partners and create proper songs for Madonna to wrap her pop-form around.

will said...

I think the opposite re: Kylie. She needs to "re-camp" and go back closer to what made fans love her. Ditto for Madge!

Well I do feel somewhat bad for Rihanna, despite the multitude of singles released, her overall album sales are a discrepancy from her actual popularity. She deserves an accurate reflection of this.

W


p.s. Loved the dancing shih tzu head on your holiday greeting. :')

Matt said...

Steve~
Matt Keppel from Microfilm here/ Loved your commentary on these folks, because I had the same sentiments, and now my 2 cents worth too.

REM - I'd almost totally given up on them after 'Around the Sun' (the name of the total shit record they did); Michael Stipe did a cool solo track on that Serge Gainsbourg covers album a few years ago. He needs to do an album; something weird, moody, electronic, dark.

Prince - Been a Prince fan since I was 10, but I've given up on him since the late 90s. No solo artist needs an editor more than he does. He needs to make weirder, more stripped down songs (i.e. If I Was Your Girlfriend)

Madonna - Where do I start? This is probably the most disappointing Madonna record I've heard. Something that should have come out in 2003 to sound remotely "cool"; she should always go for an edgy producer on the cusp and not established acts that make her sound desperate like she did on "HC"; would LOVE to write a dark, edgy electro song for her! PS-her art director/graphic designer for this album should be shot. Cheap, cheap, cheap.

JAnet - I think I'm the only one who liked the singles from this record. Alot better then the Madonna singles. I agree she's tired and her last few albums have been dreadful overall. She needs to take some years off.

Kylie - well, firstly her American labels could care less about her and botch her PR pushes here. She should totally go with an indie label that totally will push her in the right direction to the right people.

Steve-would love to hear your thoughts on our album! :)
MK
www.microfilmmusic.com

Chris Krakora said...

I liked Kylie's X album but I agree that she should stick to one or two producers on the next album. I guess with people wanting to listen more to singles/tracks as opposed to albums these days, I guess she must have thought that listeners don't have the patience to stick through an entire album. Matt, I also agree with your comments that Kylie needs a sympathetic US label, Crapitol had botched the job the day since X was released (not releasing it in the US at the same time that the rest of the world got it, only releasing it in the US when she did the rent-a-crapper thing, etc.)

As for Madonna, I think that her record label pressured her into doing Hard Candy since the singles from Confessions on a Dance Floor didn't do too well on US radio and they wanted something that was more Clear-Channel friendly. However there was appearently some disconnect between her and the label, thus the album (and its fugly cover) wound up being a big hot crass mess, and her efforts in promote in the US wound up being weak (No US TV performances on shows like Saturday Night Live, Americal Idol et al, only giving us some dinky little webcast). Fortuneatly she'll be starting on a different label when she makes her next album and she won't have as much pressure to do something that US radio demands her to do and just follow her own artistic muse.

As for Janet, I wish she would just write a song about the whole Tittygate controversy a la the Dixie Chicks's "Not Ready To Make Nice." It's appearently her career never recovered from the controversy, she took the brunt of the blame while Justin Tinkertoy just got a slap on the wrist and he's continued to have hit reocrds, and MTV, with it's phoney rebellion, drops her like an old shoe. The incident still obviously affects her even though she denies it--look at the the "sexy MILF" talk from the past two albums, it's like some office girl who gets drunk at the company Christmas party and winds up copying her but on the Xerox machine and pictures of her butt are everywhere, so the following day she turns up to work the next day wearing cleavage and a mini-skirt as to say "This is what I intended to do, screw you all!" I think that if Janet just writes a song and addresses the whole Nipplegate sexual hypricrosy in the US issue, she'll get it out of her system once and for all and she won't feel the need to do all that MILF shitck anymore. (Also dump Dupree and hook up with Jam & Lewis as well.)

xolondon said...

Kylie needs an indie label that can work her as a sort of an ironic pop icon for the Brooklynites. And now I think Empire Of The Sun should be her band.

Janet - hilarious analogy! Maybe that song could be her "political" return. Or maybe she should do a viral cover of Not Ready To Make Nice. The problem is that Janet is still lying to this day, saying it was an accident. The public knows that and I think punished her for that as much as the original incident.