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.

January 29, 2010

Charlotte Gainsbourg - Heaven Can Wait /ft. Beck

Album: IRM

I hadn’t heard much about Beck in the past year, except for his Record Club (where bunch of musicians record a cover of certain chosen album in one day), and it turns out that he had been working with French actress/singer, Charlotte Gainsbourg (daughter of British actress Jane Birkin & French singer, actor, Serge Gainsbourg). I had never heard of Gainsbourg, but Beck had written and produced her entire third album titled IRM, which was released recently. Beck also lends his backup vocal on this track, “Heaven Can Wait.”

Jay-Z - Stranded (Haiti Mon Amour) /ft. Bono, The Edge & Rihanna

Album: Hope For Haiti Now

The massive earthquake in Haiti killed over 150,000 people in the Caribbean nation. To help raise awareness and money, George Clooney gathered bunch of friends for a charity telethon. All of the performers either sung their originals or cover song, but Jay-Z and U2’s Bono and The Edge created an original song for the occasion along with the producer Swizz Beatz. The digital only track sold 131,000 downloads in matter of two days. This studio version and the live version performed on the live telethon both appear on the album.

Justin Timberlake - Hallelujah [Acoustic] /ft. Matt Morris

Album: Hope For Haiti Now

I purchased the charity album, Hope For Haiti Now, for $7.99 on the day it came out from Amazon MP3 (they had it before iTunes). There were a couple of songs that just didn’t work (Alicia Keys sounded a little off, which is rare) but for the most part, everyone sounded amazing. My only gripe about this album was that it was more ‘depressing’ than ‘uplifting’. One of those examples is this cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” (is it just me, or has this song been covered way too many times in the last couple of years?). Although it’s not my favorite track on the album, this song was #1 on iTunes download chart for a few days after it was released, so I figured I’d feature it here. For those of you wondering who Matt Morris is, he’s a son of country singer Gary Morris (I’ve never heard of Matt nor Gary either).

Lil Wayne - Drop The World /ft. Eminem

Album: Rebirth

Initially, Lil Wayne’s new album was to be released in December of 2009. But it was postponed to February. But several hundred lucky Amazon customers received the copy by accident. But the rumor has it that the February version of “Rebirth” will be completely different than the ones shipped in December. One of the confirmed tracks is “Drop the World” featuring Eminem. They don’t really exchange verses, so you don’t necessarily feel their chemistry, but they both prove on their verses why they will continue to be the hottest MCs in the game.

OK Go - This Too Shall Pass

Album: Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky

A lot of people (at least the YouTube users) know OK Go as the “nerdy guys who did a cool music video with treadmills”. Well, those nerdy guys are back with their third album titled, Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky. This time they worked with producer Dave Fridmann, who has worked closely with The Flaming Lips, and you can definitely hear the influence, particularly on this song.

Rihanna - Redemption Song [Live]

Album: Rihanna On Oprah (For Haiti Relief)

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A lot of artists are donating their time and music for the Haiti effort. Rihanna performed Bob Marley classic on Oprah Winfrey show, and the live recording was available on iTunes with all the proceeds going to the Haiti relief. Rihanna may not be the greatest singer, but hearing this song makes me realize how good the song is. Rihanna actually does a decent job (she’s not the best live performer, but this one is pretty good).

Sheryl Crow - Lean On Me [Acoustic] /ft. Kid Rock & Keith Urban

Album: Hope For Haiti Now

There are a lot of great songs on the charity album, Hope For Haiti Now, but I decided to narrow it down to just three songs for this blog. I chose Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake’s songs as those two were America’s top 2 choices. For the third one, I debated between Madonna’s inspiring cover of “Like A Prayer” with choirs or Sheryl Crow’s acoustic take on one of the most covered songs in the universe, Lean On Me. Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock have performed together on numerous occasions (notably for a duet single, “Picture”), and add country superstar, Keith Urban (who is married to Nicole Kidman) and the track sounds amazing.

Spoon - Written In Reverse

Album: Transference

Austin, Texas indie rock band, Spoon has been getting recognize for its edgy rock sound, and their seventh album, Transference, should get more critical praises. The album debuted at #4 on Billboard album chart last week. The lead off single, Written In Reverse, has cool banging piano. It’d be nice to see them live.

Train - Hey, Soul Sister

Album: Save Me, San Francisco

In the late 90s, Train came out with “Meet Virginia” and became a well known band. But it was “Drops of Jupiter” that made them into a huge band. Since then soothing rock acts such as Maroon 5, Jason Mraz and The Fray have come out to great success. Looks like Train learned a lesson or two from those new comers because their latest effort sounds like a good mixture of Maroon 5 and Jason Mraz. It’s happy. It’s upbeat. And it’s catchy. But who is Soul Sister?

Utada - Dirty Desire [Mike Rizzo Radio Edit]

Album: Dirty Desire (The Remixes)

I had a chance to see Utada (or “Hikki” as she’s referred to from her hardcore fans) perform live to US audience recently. With two English albums under her belt, two-thirds of her setlist consisted of English songs, and the other third was her Japanese mega hit songs such as “Automatic”, “First Love” and “Can You Keep A Secret.” It was my first time seeing her live, but I couldn’t help but to notice that she didn’t have much stage presence. She sounded great, and she interacted well with the audience (speaking 95% of the time in English), but if I hadn’t known, I wouldn’t believe someone telling me that she is the biggest pop star of Japan. I’ve only had a chance to listen to her latest album, This Is The One, a couple of times, but I was surprised to hear that she chose this track as her second US single. I sort of cringed with lyrics like “And in my fantasies, I love you long time”, “Doing my nine to five, I’m thinking six and nines” but at least the beat is catchy, especially when it is remixed for club release. I’m not sure if this track will reach the mainstream America’s ear, but at least she is trying to be different.

January 14, 2010

Blakroc - Ain't Nothing Like You (Hoochie Coo) /ft. Mos Def & Jim Jones

Album: Blakroc

I am really digging this song right now. Actually the whole album is really good. Blakroc is a name of a project where blues oriented rock group, The Black Keys got in a recording studio with bunch of rappers and hook singers for a couple of weeks. Sometimes when two people or groups from different genre collaborate, the result is not so great (think Chris Cornell and Timbaland), but sometimes, the result is remarkable such as this case. Despite the favorable reviews, I haven’t seen great sales data for this album, as I don’t think it has been properly promoted. It reminds me of songs I would hear at a jam club where seasoned musicians jam together, and out of a blue, a couple of rappers get on the stage and start rhyming.

Cascada - Evacuate The Dancefloor /ft. Carlprit

Album: Evacuate The Dancefloor

I know I got to the club a little early on New Years Eve, but that doesn’t justify the fact that I heard this song three times in one night. Since then it has been stuck in my head, so I thought I would share the love. With jokes aside, and German dance group, Cascada has managed to release a hit single for every album they have released. In a dance world where one-hit wonder is common, that is quite an amazing feat. “Everytime We Touch”, What Hurts the Most” and “Evactuate the Dancefloor” have all hit #1 on US Dance Chart.

Eminem - Hell Breaks Loose /ft. Dr. Dre

Album: Relapse: Refill

Initially Eminem made an announcement that he recorded too many songs for Relapse, and that he will release Relapse 2 by end of 2009. But the plan has changed, and he decided to record brand new tracks for Relapse 2, and decided to release additional songs on Relapse re-release. Hell Breaks Loose features rap duet with Dr. Dre.

Lady GaGa - Telephone /ft. Beyonce

Album: The Fame Monster [Deluxe Edition]

Both Lady GaGa and Beyonce had a huge year in 2009, and toward the end of the year, they both re-released their albums with additional songs. On Beyonce’s re-release, GaGa is featured on a track called, “Video Phone.” On Lady GaGa’s re-release titled The Fame Monster, Beyonce is featured on a track called, “Telephone.” Yes, it is a big confusing, but they are two completely separate tracks. “Video Phone” may have visually hyper music video, but I personally prefer this track better. “Telephone” was initially written by GaGa to be placed on Britney’s new album, but she rejected it, and now it’s Lady GaGa’s second single from the re-release.

LMFAO - Shots /ft. Lil Jon

Album: Party Rock

For those of you who don’t chat or text, LMAO means Laughing My Ass Off, so you can see what additional letter “F” means for this electro-dance group. LMFAO consists of Berry Gordy’s (founder of Motown) son and nephew. They had a hit with “I’m in Miami Bitch” last year. During the New Years Eve party, I heard this song for the first time, which as you can expect got a lot of the crowd up to the bar. When Lil Jon starts to name bunch of shots, it’s time to head to the bar (though the dance floor kind of cleared up, which, for electro-dance group, I don’t know if that’s a good thing).

Locksley - Darling, It's True

Album: Be In Love

When I first heard this, I thought it was The Fratellis from the UK as the music definitely had the British Invasion sound. But the band is from Madison, Wisconsin, and they have admitted their love for The Beatles and The Kinks. Their new album will be coming out in late January with the lead single, “Darling, It’s True” which has been getting some airplay on VH1 and MTV. It’s a fun and catchy song.

Mary J. Blige - The One /ft. Drake

Album: Stronger With Each Tear

This track by Mary J. Blige has been released as a single several months ago, but I thought I would review it now that her ninth album, Stronger With Each Tear, has been released a couple of weeks ago. Her last three albums have been debuting at #1 spot, but this time, she had stiff competition from Susan Boyle and ended up settling for second place. She still belches out emotional songs, but I tend to like more of her upbeat songs, such as this one which features rapper Drake.

Miike Snow - Animal

Album: Miike Snow

Yes, that is not misspell, this group has 2 “i”s in Miike. Miike Snow is a band from Sweden, and consists of singer song writer Andrew Wyatt and the production team, Bloodshy & Avant, who is most famous for producing Britney Spears’s “Toxic.” I recently came across this song as it was available for free mp3 download on Amazon MP3. The song is catchy and addicting.

Natalie Imbruglia - Want

Album: Come To Life

Former Aussie soap star had a worldwide hit with “Torn” in 1998. Since then she’s enjoyed mediocre hits such as “Wrong Impression” and “Counting Down the Days” but nothing as big as “Torn.” Chances are, her fourth album, Come to Life won’t bring in any major hits either despite working with Chris Martin of Coldplay. “Want” is the first single, and it is one of the songs Natalie Imbruglia worked with Chris Martin. Compared to her previous clean pop sound, this track has more of Kylie Minogue feel to it. But, is it just me or does she look kind of freaky on this cover?

Vampire Weekend - Cousins

Album: Contra

Columbia University educated band, Vampire Weekend had a clever online marketing for their sophomore album. They posted ads only containing the photo of a woman in polo shirt. When people clicked on it, the link led to Vampire Weekend’s website. The band had this to say to Pitchfork interview: “The first expression that I read into her was some sort of hesitation. We had a lot of discussions trying to figure out how old this person was when the picture was taken-- she could be 15 or 27. The ambiguity of her age and expression made me feel like she was on the cusp of something, which really matches the vibe of the new album.” The lead off single is “Cousins” and has already been getting quite a bit of airplay on the rock stations.