About This Site

Each month I select 20 songs (10 songs twice a month) that I am either hooked on or am curious about. Most of the music I select are rock, hip-hop, R&B and pop songs.

My song selection comes from 20-30 CDs I get from various sources each month, as well as recommendations from iTunes and Amazon. I also check out the charts in US, UK and Japan.

February 27, 2009

BoA - Eat You Up [Remix] /ft. Flo Rida

Album: BoA

sample is not the remix
BoA is a major pop star in her native country Korea. She’s also a huge star in Japan, as she can sing in both Korean and Japanese. Now that she has conquered the charts in both Korea and Japan, she is ready to take on the US. Her US debut will be in mid March. The first single, “Eat You Up” is a dance tune with vocal alteration, which doesn’t show case her singing talent, but the beat is pretty good, and it actually was a moderate hit on the Billboard Club chart. I’m not quite sure why this remix with Flo Rida wasn’t released for sale, but it was leaked on the internet. I like the original with more techno beat, and this remix featuring rapper Flo Rida, who is hot now with a number 1 song in the US.

The BPA - Toe Jam /ft. David Byrne & Dizzee Rascal

Album: I Think We're Gonna Need A Bigger Boat

BPA stands for Brighton Port Authority, and this is Fatboy Slim’s new side project. The first single featured Talking Heads singer David Byrne and UK rapper, Dizzee Rascal. Fatboy Slim has always had cool music videos, and this side project is no exception. Toe Jam features nude dancers, which their private areas covered in black blocks. As they dance, the black blocks form images (like smiley faces). It’s kind of a cool concept, and the song is catchy and fun as well.

Flo Rida - Right Round /ft. Kesha

Album: Right Round (Single)

Flo Rida must know a thing or two about spitting out a number 1 track. His previous hit “Low” held the record for most digital download in a single week. Now, Flo Rida’s new song from his second album broke that record. It is also the #1 song in the US right now. “Low” spent 10 weeks on top of the chart in 2008, which was the longest of any songs in the year. Could this new track stay on top for that long? This track features the singer Kesha who will be releasing her own album soon.

Jem - Yellow

Album: Sweetheart

no sample
I heard this song at Starbucks and I couldn’t figure out who was singing it. The voice sounded familiar, but I was surprised to find out that it was a Welsh singer, Jem, who is famous for songs like “24”, “They” and “Crazy.” I guess I’ve never heard her sing in such a stripped acoustic song. I’m not sure if she’s the one playing the piano but it’s beautiful. Starbucks released a special Valentine’s CD called Sweetheart, which has indie bands like Death Cab or She & Him covering romantic songs. I listened to some of the songs, but I’m not sure if those songs are romantic. Even if they are, these indie bands make it sound really depressing.

The Lonely Island - I'm On A Boat /ft. T-Pain

Album: Incredibad

I’m a huge fan of The Flight of the Conchords. Some people are comparing The Lonely Island with the Kiwi guys, but the only similarities between those two bands are that they try to write songs that makes people laugh. Flight of the Conchords is way more subtle and clever, whereas Lonely Island is more in your face. That’s not to say that one is better. It’s what you prefer. I like both, and I particularly like this track featuring T-Pain. The Lonely Island consists of Saturday Night Live cast Andy Samberg, and his two friends from junior high school, who are writers for SNL. It’s hilarious how they act so “gangsta” about being on a boat. My favorite line: “But this ain’t Seaworld, this is real as it gets. I’m on a boat, motherf*cker, don’t you ever forget.” I also like how the music video start out.

Plain White T's - 1, 2, 3, 4

Album: Big Bad World

Plain White T’s had a big hit with “Hey There Delilah” two years ago. They released a new album last fall, but it seemed like nobody noticed them. The lead off single was an upbeat rocker, but failed to chart. Now they are releasing their second single which sounds a lot like “Hey There Delilah” but with more cheesy lyrics. They do however make it catchy. “There’s only ONE way TO say those THREE words FOR you, I Love You.” Yes, cheesy, but catchy.

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss - Please Read The Letter

Album: Raising Sand

For this year’s 51st Grammy, this duet by former Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant and bluegrass queen, Alison Krauss won the Record of the Year. It beat Adele’s “Chasing Pavement”, Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida”, Leona Lewis’ “Bleeding Love” and M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes”. I own the songs to all of the nominees, but had never heard of this “Please Read the Letter” song. The first time I heard it (after finding out that they won), I thought, “it’s kind of boring, and repetitive. I would’ve voted for Coldplay.” (if I had any choice in the matter, I would’ve nominated Elbow) But the more I listened to it, the more I began to appreciate the depth of the track. This song would go well in a scene from a movie.

t.A.T.u. - Beliy Plaschik

Album: Happy Smiles

I recently read an article that Tatu received MTV Legendary award, and I thought, “what? Don’t they give those to truly legendary people like Michael Jackson or Madonna?” The award turned out to be from MTV Russia. Even then, have they been around that long to be considered “legend?” But to be fair, they may be the biggest pop start to come out of Russia in the past 20 years. I hadn’t even heard about them since the fake lesbian incident from “All the Things She Said” in the early 2000s. Their latest album, Happy Smiles only has a couple of English songs, and rest in Russian. As odd as it may sound, I actually liked this track even though I have no idea what the song is about. The English title of this song is “White Robe” but that still doesn’t tell me much. I thought watching their music video might tell me something. It started out with them in sexy outfit, which wasn’t too much of a surprise, but was shocked when both of the girls appeared completely topless in the video (just for a few seconds though). I didn’t know that Russia was that open. Note to self: don’t watch music videos from a foreign country while at work.

T.I. - Dead And Gone /ft. Justin Timberlake

Album: Paper Trail

This is one of my favorite tracks right now. Justin Timberlake adds great piano riff and chorus, and T.I. nails his rap. They collaborated really well together for Timberlake’s “My Love” a few years back as well. This song is about T.I.’s close friend who was killed during a shootout in Cincinnati (T.I. was in the same car). In a recent interview, T.I. claimed that he started collecting guns after this incident as he got paranoid, especially as his fame began to raise. One of his illegal purchases was caught, and now he will have to serve time in jail.

Taylor Swift - Fifteen [Live] /ft. Miley Cyrus

Album: 51th Grammy Awards

sample - not from Grammy
Grammy award show has always brought some surprise and memorable performances. Eminem and Elton John together or Paul McCartney joining Jay-Z and Linkin Park. But in the past couple of years, especially this year, I feel like there was no surprise. The only surprise happened off stage when Chris Brown got arrested for beating up his girlfriend, Rihanna on the morning of the award show (they were even supposed to perform, which they had to cancel). I was trying to pick the best performance from this year’s show, but I honestly couldn’t think of one. Coldplay and Jay-Z sounded good, but it was predictable, and so was Radiohead with USC marching band.

This duet between Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus is nothing special, but I’ve been sort of intrigued by Taylor Swift recently. This week marked her 10th week being #1 album in the US. Why is she selling so many records? I normally don’t listen to her music (or Miley’s) but after listening to this song and learning that Taylor Swift actually writes her own songs, I got a better idea of why teenage girls love her music so much. She’s a great story teller. To be able to do that at her age, that is impressive. It’s not enough to get me to buy her album, but at least I should mention about her. Another thing I noticed from this performance was that Taylor Swift sings with some kind of emotion, whereas Miley just sings it.

February 12, 2009

Bruce Springsteen - Working On A Dream

Album: Working On A Dream

Bruce Springsteen performed during the Super Bowl (Pittsburgh Steelers defeated Arizona Cardinals) half time this year. He performed batch of old hits such as Glory Days and Born to Run, as well as this new track, which he has performed for the new US President, Barrack Obama. I was never a huge fan of “the Boss” but his performance during the Super Bowl was energetic and charismatic.

Cradle Orchestra - Only One /ft. Need Not Worry

Velvet Ballads

Cradle Orchestra is a Japanese jazz/classical band that plays live instrumental music for hip-hop artists. The group consist of DJ, bass, violin, flute and piano. On their latest album, Velvet Ballads (only available in Japan so far), they enlist guest rappers including Black Thought (of The Roots), CL Smooth and Talib Kweli, just to name a few. This track features Rhode Island underground rapper, Need Not Worry. His flowing delivery and beautiful melody from Cradle Orchestra make this a unique song.

Eminem - Crack A Bottle /ft. Dr. Dre & 50 Cent

Album: Crack A Bottle (Single)

Slim Shady is back, along with his superstar friends, Dr. Dre and 50 Cent. This is definitely Eminem music. Actually this song sounds like it belongs on The Eminem Show album (similar to circus-ish sounding of “Business”), so there is nothing ground breaking about this track produced by Dre, but it sure is fun and addicting. Let’s hope that his new album will actually be released in March as it is rumored to be.

Hoobastank - My Turn

Album: For (N) Ever

California rock band, Hoobastank was recently named “the worst band name ever” by Blender music magazine. Most people will remember them for their softie rock song, “The Reason” which was a huge hit in 2004. Their last album, Every Man for Himself did not generate any hits, but they’re hoping their latest, and fourth album can give them a hit or two. The first single from the new album is a hard rocker titled, My Turn. So far they are doing well in Japan (the lead singer Doug Robb is half Japanese).

Kelly Clarkson - My Life Would Suck Without You

Album: All I Ever Wanted

The first winner of American Idol, Kelly Clarkson tried to write her own songs for the last album, My December, despite the disagreement from the record executives. The result wasn’t so great, and she went back to collaborating with hit makers such as Max Martin, who produced this track. “My Life Would Suck Without You” made the all time record for the biggest jump on Billboard single chart (from #97 to #1 in one week). I was never a huge fan of “Since U Been Gone”, and this track kind of reminds me of that song.

My Chemical Romance - Desolation Row

Album: Watchmen Soundtrack

Their last album, The Black Parade was an awesome album, from the first song to the last song. It is reported that they have now started recording for the new album. Meanwhile, they have released this Bob Dylan cover song for upcoming super hero movie, Watchmen. There’s not much uniqueness to the cover, other than that it’s sped up and louder. I guess I expected more from My Chemical Romance covering Bob Dylan. Hopefully their new album would be just as good as The Black Parade, if not better.

The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus - You Better Pray

Album: Lonely Road

This Jacksonville, Florida band found success thanks to their debut single, “Face Down.” They have now released a second album, Lonely Road, featuring this first single, You Better Pray. It’s a great rock song without depending on screaming too much.

Rehab - Last Tattoo

Album: Graffiti The World

Rehab had a moderate hit with “Bartender Song” on the country chart last year. They sound like a mixture of Limp Bizkit, Kid Rock and Stone Temple Pilots, especially on this song. They incorporate rock, rap and DJ in their songs. I haven’t heard this song on the radio yet, but hopefully they will choose this as their next single.

The Script - Lose Yourself [Live]

Album: Radio 1's Live Lounge, Vol. 3

no sample
I love Radio 1’s Live Lounge series. I’m a huge fan of the program. I used to be able to stream it online, but I am no longer able to. The program invites current popular bands, and ask them to perform their hit, and a cover of another popular band. Normally the bands cover current hits, but The Script chose to cover Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.” The Script is a new band from Ireland. Last year their debut album, The Script became multi-platinum. What’s impressive about this cover is that the lead singer Danny O'Donoghue actually sings through this song in melody.

U2 - Get On Your Boots

Album: No Line On The Horizon

Originally U2’s twelfth album was to be released in end of 2008, but they postponed in order to work on more songs. Now their album is to be released in end of February. The first single, “Get On Your Boots” (which was used for Gatorade commercial during Super Bowl), has cool bass from Adam Clayton. The cover photo was taken by Japanese photographer, Hiroshi Sugimoto.