While our respective music libraries do have some similarities, for the most part, they’re two juxtaposing musical tastes. Every week, one of us will pick an album for both of us to review, and I can guarantee it won’t be pretty. Instead of getting one opinion from someone who either loves or hates the album, artist, or genre, we’ll be providing two very different takes on the same album. For our first column, we’d like to give a brief overview of the music we can’t get enough of.
Tina’s Library (iTunes Library Name: It’s Only Rock n’ Roll (and so much more) but I Like It)
My two favorite bands are The Grateful Dead and The Get Up Kids. I have a vast range of genres I listen to; I like to be open to everything, but sometimes I need to jump right past that cliché indie/emo pop/rock band to find a band that makes my ears ring with the resonance of awesome. Some of the bands that circulate my iTunes are Metallica, The Beatles, Jukebox the Ghost, Alkaline Trio, Joan Jett, Rise Against, Bob Dylan, Queen, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Ok Go, Bob Marley, and The Living End, just to name a few. My biggest pet peeve with bands these days are their lack of knowledge with the synthesizer, lyrics that have no meaning, and fashion (aka, guys thinking they can get away with v-neck t-shirts)
Dan’s Library (iTunes Library Name: The Euphoria Dome Dance Party Plus)
No Doubt and Lola Ray are my two favorite bands of all time; Kylie Minogue, Cobra Starship, Men Women & Children, The Cardigans (they’re still making music!), Klaxons, The Donnas, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Head Automatica round out the Top 25 Most Played songs on my iTunes. I like pop music that I can move to. Half of my Workout playlist consists of Britney Spears with a side of Beyonce, Kat DeLuna, Kenna, The Sounds and The Blakes for good measure. I’m open to music of all genres, but anything with a bouncy pop undertone is the stuff I crave.
Music Swap #1 : Robyn (self-titled)
Remember that song “Show Me Love” from the late 90’s by a chick from Sweden named Robyn? What about “Do You Know (What It Takes)? That was another one of her singles. What about any other of her songs? I don’t remember them either, but in August of 2007, she released a new EP on iTunes called Konichiwa Bitches – EP. I don’t remember how I happened upon it, but within a minute of hearing the clip, I downloaded all four of the songs and instantly fell in love.
In April of 2008, Robyn released Robyn. You probably didn’t hear any of her new music outside of MTV bumps or “Cobrastyle” on one of those dance shows that are all the rage today. If you’re in the mood for a record that runs the gamut from hip-hop beats to pop ballads and everywhere in between, then Robyn is definitely worth a listen.
Unlike some of the artists who hover around the top of today’s Top 40, Robyn can actually sing, and sing with a heartbreaking sweetness and playful honesty that permeates the entire album. Her rhymes in “Konichiwa Bitches“ are clever; “Jack You Off”s piano-pounding and obscene lyrics will make you smirk; “Robotboy“ is quirky and melodic; “With Every Heartbeat“ will break your heart.
Some editions of her album came with bonus tracks, the must-haves being “With Every Heartbeat (Acoustic)“, “Be Mine! (Ballad Version)”, and “Bum Like You (Alt. Version)“. While they’re not all acoustic, the music definitely takes a back seat to Robyn’s beautiful and sincere vocals.
If you’d like a break from the overproduced pop fare littering the airwaves, give Robyn a listen. It’s a breath of fresh air. It’s fun. It’s quirky. It’s sexy in a look-but-don’t-touch way.
Listen To: Konichiwa Bitches, Handle Me, With Every Heartbeat, Bum Like You…pretty much the entire album except…
Skip ‘Em: Should Have Known, Any Time You Like
Review: 4.5 out of 5
Swedish Pop sensation Robyn has come a long way since “Show Me Love” and “Do You Know What It Takes”, especially to Americans, since she took a ten year break promoting her music on this side of the world. She reminds me of an alternative version of Pink; she’s saucy and full of life, but I feel like there is something missing. Her songs either sound over or under-produced. Because she is a solo pop artist, background beats and tracks make up a good portion of her music. At times, it sounds like there isn’t enough music combining or surrounding her voice, making her intonation detectably awkward. On this self titled album, most of her songs stay in a comfortable range (like five notes) until she hits the chorus, which then broadens up her note selection. I am not about to bad mouth an international pop star and tell her how to do her job, I’m just giving my honest opinion; she could do better, production wise. I do admire her ambition though. She knows what sound she’s looking for and putting her two cents in, since Konichiwa Records is her very own label.
Her prelude track “Curriculum Vitae” was a bit ostentatious, but I hope one day I could reach this Robyn status: “She split the atom, invented the x-ray, the cure for AIDS, and the surprise blindfold greeting. She performed and Choreographed the fights for Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon and Game of death and still does stunt doubles for Jackie Chan on the weekends. She suckerpunched Einstein, outsmarted Ali, and even outsuperfreaked Rick James.” Really Robyn? You outsuperfreaked Rick James? It was a great introduction to the next song “Konichiwa Bitches”, my favorite track on the album. The rhymes are clever and I love her attitude. Robyn covered “Cobrastyle” from Teddybear that was reputable, but made me realize that it shared similarities with Kid Rock’s hit “Bawitdaba”…very interesting. The two biggest problems I had with this CD was her voice in general and the conformity of her songs. Even when she expanded her vocal range, it sounded like she was straining to hit the notes. Maybe she could have used backup singers instead of her own vocal track; it would have at least added some diversity to the music. While listening to Robyn, I constantly thought I was listening to the same song. With a lot of them, the back beats ruined it for me, especially the ones featuring the unflattering high pitches. Also, they were predictable, but then again, what pop song isn’t? Slower tracks like “Eclipse” and “Should Have Known” were more tolerable because they were not bombarded with unnecessary tracks. These songs focused more on her voice, which when stripped down or accompanied by only a piano, is quite pleasant.
Final summation: this electro-pop diva could not get farther away from the music that circulates my playlist, but even after a giving the time for a closer listen, she does not excite my musical desires, unless of course I was in a club and had a few too many. Too predictable and poor background beats.