Assorted music reviews

So, I’m going to try something new on my blog: I’m going to think of albums or Extended Plays (EPs) that I’ve loved all of or that I thought were just OK. As I’m writing this, I’m thinking of assorted music to write about already. But for the curious folks who wonder what’s gotten into me, what’s made me thought to try this, is the fact that there’s music that’s come out that I cannot possibly review entire albums of…because each song is so fucking amazing. I’m going to make this as interesting as possible, so not all of the music I’ll review is new music. If I don’t write specifically where these albums can be found at, that means that they can be found on Apple Music. So without further ado, here we go!!

Todrick Hall recently released an EP that’s called “Quarantine Queen.” Now, I’m starting things off with Todrick Hall for multiple reasons, one of which is because I’m impressed with the level of creativity that is this EP. So in case you haven’t heard this gem of music, Todrick managed to create an entire body of work that’s all about, you guessed it, Corona Virus. And honestly, I have to hand it to him for pulling that off. Like, the fact that he’s literally found a way to incorporate the ways in which everyone’s routines have drastically shifted, combined with the fact that he’s still trying to show the world that he’s a sexy gay man, warms my heart. I hope that his way of moving through the world inspires others to be themselves 24-7. I have so much love for him, and I’d say that he’s one of the huge talents out today. But most of all, and especially as a gay woman myself, seeing Todrick Hall being fucking proud of who he is just does something to me. Like, if I’d known about him when I was growing up, I might not have struggled so much with my sexuality. But then again, I believe that Todrick Hall is around the same age as me…so I doubt he was making music when I was a kid. LOL. But even so, this EP that’s made up of dance beats that make you smile and feel happy, should get the award for most creative project related to Corona Virus. I mean seriously, usually when I think about Covid 19, I feel bad, sad or some other heightened emotion. And so, the fact that this EP of Todrick Hall’s has the power to pull me out of such unpleasant thinking patterns, says a lot about the kind of person he is…and I definitely mean that in a good way.

Lady Gaga’s latest album entitled “Chromatica” is definitely one of my favorite albums that’s been released this year. Like, the entire way the album flows, is just perfect. And this particular album is exactly what I needed from Gaga, as I felt that her previous album “Joanne” fucking sucked. But “Chromatica” reminded me that Lady Gaga does and did have what it takes, to make an amazing musical comeback. I mean, the way “Chromatica’s” transitions flow so smoothly from the different string solos, into the longer songs, just makes me feel like this album made itself. Every single song on it, including the string solos, takes me to my happy place. And that’s saying something, as I’m not a fan of classical music in most other cases. Zedd who makes Electronic Dance Music, EDM, is another musician who uses string/other orchestral instruments in what I feel is a powerful way, though.

My overall thoughts on The Black Eyed Peas’ latest album entitled “Translation,” are that I’m glad this particular group is back!! Well actually, I’m glad that The Black Eyed Peas have moved on, in terms of finding new members to be in the group that fit nicely with the original group members. But don’t get me wrong, I was and am still a fan of Fergie. I think she was fantastic as a member of The Black Eyed Peas. I also think that some of her solo music is decent. But that being said, I want to focus on The Black Eyed Peas exactly as they currently are. This album of theirs called “Translation” is amazing, from start to finish!! There is no better way to say that. Each song on this album has a latin/R&B vibe to it; the Black Eyed Peas as well as their album guests even sing in English, Spanish and Tagalog. I love how they combine rap into their singing as well. Everything on this album seriously flows amazingly. The songs also have lyrical content that’s relevant to what we as a world are going through right now, with Covid 19 and the United States of America’s piss poor leadership especially. But also, each song on this particular album just makes you feel happy and in love with life.

The Black Eyed Peas album “MASTERS OF THE SUN, Volume 1; my overall thoughts on this album, are that The Black Eyed Peas have another fabulous body of work in these songs. This album actually came out prior to the album of theirs that I’ve reviewed in the previous paragraph. But it’s amazing; it’s mostly done in English, through The Black Eyed Peas rapping and singing together. This album of theirs has a similar style to their album that I’ve reviewed in the previous paragraph. But what I’d say is my most favorite thing about this entire album, is that the person in this group who has a disability, finally sings and raps about their disability openly. This stands out to me in a huge way because being that The Black Eyed Peas are a well-known group throughout the world, the disabled person can really use his platform to his advantage. What I mean, is that given that people have loved his music for decades now, people may receive his blindness in a healthy way. Like, maybe they’ll realize that he’s human just like they are…and then perhaps when they share that realization with others, those folks will respond similarly too. And as excited as I am that this BEP member has decided to be honest about something that’s a huge part of his identity, I also understand why he may have kept being blind to himself: he might have felt that being blind has nothing whatsoever to do with his music…and I would agree with that way of thinking. But also, I do fully support him sharing that part of himself with the world, as he’s felt ready to. Because as I’ve said numerous times before, everyone deserves to be their authentic selves, whether we are famous or not.

Jordin Sparks’s EP entitled “1990 Forever” which also features Elijah Blake, leaves me with mixed feelings. Because on one hand, I love how Jordin Sparks’s voice has matured, as she’s gotten older. I especially love the way her low notes sound; it sounds to me like she’s really been working hard on making those particular notes sound better and even more natural. But honestly, I’m not quite sure how I feel about Alijah Blake being on this EP. Like, he’s been on a Jordin Sparks song before. However, he’s someone who I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t listen to his solo music. But going back to this particular EP with Jordin Sparks, Elijah Blake doesn’t sound bad. But he doesn’t sound amazing, either, in my opinion. But all in all, I do love how each song on this EP sounds fun and upbeat.

Jordin Sparks’s album entitled “Right Here Right Now” is definitely my favorite album of hers that’s been released so far. The main reason for this, is because this album is the only full length release she has that contains grownup subject matters like sex and exploration of her sexuality as a woman. One stand-out track on this album to me is called “Double Tap” which features a well-known rapper who goes by 2 Chainz. What I love about this song in particular, is how these two musical artists found a creative way to come together on a song that’s sexually playful yet also leaves you wanting to hear much more. The R&B beat that this song has, in combination with Jordin’s harmonies, is perfect. But honestly, another stand-out track on this album, is a track called “It Ain’t You;” this song shows that Jordin Sparks has some attitude when she wants to. I love seeing that sassiness in her, as I can relate to having that feeling myself. But there’s also a song on the album, the title track “Right Here Right Now.” This song also talks about a couple who’s in love with each other, who apparently enjoy being so loud that they get kicked out of hotels. Another sexual song on this album is called “Silhouette” and it’s another one of my favorites. Now, being a sexual grownup myself, this entire album seriously rocks my world. I love this new version of Jordin Sparks that we’re being introduced to throughout the album. But to clarify, the reason I’m discussing stand-out tracks on this album, is because before this album was released, Jordin Sparks mostly sang songs that talked about teenager kinda love. And that makes sense, given that the world learned of her talent on the 6th season of the TV show called American Idol, a talent competition. But I feel like everyone ought to grow up sometime…and this album is Jordin Sparks’s time to officially show that she’s an adult!!

Solange Knowles, who just goes by her first name of Solange professionally, made an EP called “True.” Her harmonies, combined with the instrumentation of each song, make this EP worthwhile. Because what people might not know about Solange, is that she’s totally involved with the creation of her music. Like, for this EP specifically, she had ideas in her mind about the type of sound/vibe that she was going for. She even knew the producer she’d wanted to be behind her on this project, along with any visuals she’d thought of as meaningful. And all of these things combined, make me love who Solange seems to be as a person. I love how she thinks of art as something that’s multi-layered and ever-changing. And honestly, I wish that I could see the assorted art that she creates. I bet it’s beautiful.

The R&B singer Brandy’s album called “Two-Eleven” was released nearly a decade ago. But if I remember correctly, said album didn’t get the publicity it should’ve gotten. And perhaps that was because the album was released the same year that Whitney Houston (a well-known pop star) died. I mean, I’ve watched several interviews of Brandy on YouTube since this album’s release, where she talked openly about how much Whitney Houston meant to her on a personal level. But honestly, this particular album of Brandy’s called “Two-Eleven” really is one of my favorite albums that she’s released. It’s an album mostly made up of pop/R&B songs, and harmonies that are out of this world. Brandy is seriously one of my favorite artists who creates harmonies of herself that are angelic. On this album specifically though, I love how Brandy shows the sexual side of herself in a way that’s different from what we’ve ever seen before from her. What I mean by that, is that in the song “Paint This House” for example, she sings about how she loves having sex with her partner in literally every possible place in her house. In a song on this same album called “What You Need,” Brandy sensually sings about how she loves doing unconventional things with her partner in the bedroom. And the thing is, I don’t mean to imply that Brandy has never had sexually explicit songs before; but rather, the amount of detail that she goes into on this particular album, is much richer and more graphic than her other songs are. And I love the way her evolution has played out here. Like, these things make her so much hotter to me!! She definitely gives her biggest fans exactly what they, what we, want: her vulnerability and sexiness. Like, seriously, if I could somehow bottle up these things from her, I’d carry that bottle with me all the time. LOL.

Another of Brandy’s albums that I love, is the one that’s called “Full Moon.” This particular album is what inspired Brandy’s serious fans, me included, to give her the nickname of “the Vocal Bible.” Because honestly, this album shows what a versatile artist she really is. This album displays Brandy’s softer side, but also, it takes its listeners fully into Brandy’s world, through its interludes as well as through its songs; and it does this whether Brandy is singing about being in love or being heartbroken. And as I’ll continue to say in the reviews I write about Brandy’s music, Brandy’s harmonies with herself as well as her vocals over all, are unmatched. If I remember right, the cover art for this album is a shot of Brandy’s face, all the way down to her chest. Also if my memory serves correctly, the booklet that’s included with the physical album, has pretty pictures of Brandy. I remember that one of the pictures in the booklet is a forward-facing view of Brandy’s face, with her braided hair on either side of her shoulders. I also remember this booklet having another picture of Brandy. But in this picture though, she was wearing a lite-colored shirt or blouse, with a dark-colored belt and dark-colored pants or jeans. I believe she was also standing up in this particular photo, and had her hair parted on either side of her shoulders. But in this picture, Brandy’s hair was straight. At least, that’s how I remember this album looking. Rodney Jerkins was the main person who produced the “Full Moon” album; and we as the listeners can really tell that Brandy and Rodney have an established relationship with each other, the way they did on her “Never Say Never” album. And that brings me to an interesting point which is that I typically don’t pay attention to who produces people’s albums. But the exception to that rule, is in a case like this one, where if you’re already familiar with Brandy’s and Rodney Jerkins’s history together, it will be obvious that the two of them are a great music-making couple.

The album of Brandy’s called “Human” was also produced by Rodney Jerkins. But for whatever reason, he (Rodney) and Brandy were going through a rough patch in their friendship when they were working on this album together…and the album reflected that truth. The album wasn’t awful by any means, but it definitely was not Brandy’s best record. That being said, I do find it ironic that this album is called “Human” and Brandy and Rodney Jerkins had some very human, likely frustrating times with one another, during the making of this album.

Brandy’s album called “Afrodisiac” was largely produced by Timbaland (who’s a well-known R&B/rap producer). And Timbaland seems to have a close relationship with Brandy, similarly to the relationship between Brandy and Rodney Jerkins. That being said, Timbaland is a huge talent; the beats that he comes up with are out of this world, no matter who the music he creates is actually for. There’s a song on this album in which Brandy talks about how she’d gone through a divorce in her life. But the thing is, as the major fan of hers that I am, I know that she’s actually never been married. But being that her family is deeply religious, they felt that it would look best for Brandy’s very public career if she lied to people about this part of her life. And TBH, this has always rubbed me the wrong way, even when I was still trying to act like I was religious myself. Because I don’t think it’s right for people to lie about any aspect of themselves even if they are scared that the truth may not be received well by others. And so, every time I listen to this specific song called “Who I Am,” on this particular album of Brandy’s, I feel really disappointed in this particular choice she made. But that being said, there are also songs on this album called “Afrodisiac” that display Brandy’s confidence which I of course love. One of those songs is called “Sadiddy” and it’s about how Brandy in no uncertain terms says that she’ll stand up for herself if she feels that she’s being done wrong by anyone. Then there are also songs on this album that make me think of my situation with my toxic family of origin. There’s one song in particular on this album that specifically makes me think of my biological mom. It’s called “Finally” and it’s about how you’ve finally decided that getting yourself out of a bad situation is what’s best for you. There’s another song on this album called “Should I Go” which has a chorus that I can deeply relate to. The chorus of this song asks should I go? Should I stay? I’m in control, either way; and just those few words are incredibly powerful to me. If I remember right, this album’s cover art shows Brandy standing up, with a lite-colored skimpy outfit on. This photo is a full shot of Brandy, where her neckline is also visible. If my memory is indeed correct about the way this picture looks, then I’m pretty sure this is one of my favorite pictures of Brandy that I’ve ever seen. All in all though, this album is one of my favorite Brandy albums that’s been released.

My overall thoughts on the Open House Christmas EP by Jaci Velasquez, are that the three songs on this EP are great. Even though I don’t identify with the lyrical content of any of its songs, I do love Jaci’s voice, combined with the instrumentation of each individual song. Interestingly though, the last track on this EP is a pretty long audio interview that someone who’s part of the Christian music scene, does with Jaci. Throughout this interview, Jaci Velasquez talks about the album that she’s in the middle of recording, at the time when this EP of hers is released. One thing she talks about that’s frustrating to me as an atheist, is how people can’t survive without a higher power in their lives, to tell them what to do. Jaci Velasquez flat out assumes that everyone in the world has similar religious beliefs as she does; and on one hand, I get that, as people who are on the fence about whether they’d define themselves as Christians or not, might listen to her music if someone tells them about it. But on the other hand, it infuriates me how fucking Christian-centric this interview is. Like, I found myself listening to the entire thing going “you know, I wish that Jaci Velasquez could be well-known for something besides just her music. Because there definitely has to be more to her than just her music, or the fact that she was pregnant with her first child when this particular interview took place.” But that’s the thing: because of how Christian-centric the United States of America is, many folks only see Jaci Velasquez as a representative of God. LOL; I know that sounds funny, but it’s true. But that being said, something else that this interviewer discussed with Jaci that I want to talk about, is how the Christian culture doesn’t like the fact that people within said religion get divorced. But the thing is, divorce is something that’s a very real part of some people’s lives whether they are religious or not. And to be fair, I don’t know of anyone who exactly likes getting divorced; although, I’m sure that there are people in the world who have divorces where the people in question are friendly towards one another. So when I hear people who are Christian say that divorce is always a bad option for folks, I cringe a lot. Because the reality is that, if people are unhappy together, even after they’ve done what they can to try to make things work, that likely means that there is no justification as to why they should stay together. And so, being that Jaci Velasquez says in this interview that she was unhappy in her first marriage, no one has the right to look down on her for making what is a very personal decision. Because only those who were involved in this situation are the experts on this story. This applies to everyone who goes through divorce, or through anything else that’s a huge setback.

My overall thoughts on Jaci Velasquez’s EP entitled “Acoustic Favorites:” as I’ve said previously, I don’t/can’t identify with most of her lyrical content. But so that people don’t get bored with me saying that every time I write an album review of her music, just read those particular music reviews with that information in mind. And where it’s necessary, I’ll comment on her mainstream songs that I love. But going back to this “Acoustic Favorites” EP though, on one hand, I feel like it’s cool to hear Jaci Velasquez singing some of her songs in a stripped down/more quiet way. But yet, I also miss the way that Jaci’s voice soars, whenever she’s hitting high notes. And honestly, having acoustic versions of these songs really takes away from her being able to sing in that way, as there aren’t many background vocalists helping her out with harmonies and such. So quite frankly, this EP is a huge letdown for me.

The Jaci Velasquez album called “Mi Corazon” (My Heart) has only Spanish songs on it, as you might have already been able to tell by its name alone. I’m going to write about Jaci’s Spanish-language albums as generally as I can, because it’s been over a decade since I was in high school…and therefore since I’ve taken any Spanish classes. Well technically, I did take a Spanish-language course at an Austin college a year or so after I’d graduated high school. But I don’t remember Spanish anywhere as well as I once did. I just never kept my speaking that language up, the way some folks probably have. But needless to say, I love all of Jaci Velasquez’s Spanish-language albums. But going back to this particular album of hers entitled “Mi Corazon,” she does have a few songs on it that are what I’d consider mainstream tracks. One of these songs is about Jaci’s parents’ divorce, and how their divorce changed Jaci’s life drastically. And she also has a love song on this album, where she talks about being in love with someone who cheated on her. But honestly, a common theme about her Spanish-language albums in particular, is that there’s just something totally different when Jaci sings in Spanish. Like, even though at the time she’d recorded and released this album, she didn’t speak much Spanish, she still annunciated the words perfectly when she sang them. Also on this album, there are different styles of music. One song that’s different is a song that has a fiddle played throughout it; that song is actually one of my favorite ones on the album. But ultimately, when Jaci Velasquez sings in Spanish, she sounds like she’s a Native Spanish-speaker. The passion that she’s able to channel in her voice on this album though, is one reason that I still listen to her music to this day. Vocally, she’s incredibly talented. But before I forget, I want to make sure that I write about how I remember the look of this album’s cover art. So if my memory serves correctly, the cover has a picture of Jaci sitting down, with her face turned to one side; I think the picture also is a full shot of Jaci. If I remember right, this picture also shows her wearing a lite-colored shirt or blouse, with dark-colored jeans or pants. I think her hands are also folded in this picture, to make it look like she’s praying.

Jaci Velasquez’s album “Buenas Noches Mi Sol” (Goodnight My Son) says that it features Fisher-Price on it. So I’m thinking that that probably means that Fisher-Price, a well-known business that creates toys for babies and young children, sponsored Jaci so that she could create this special album. And honestly, I do remember the names Fisher-Price from when I was a little girl…but I’m going to stick to talking about this particular Jaci Velasquez album. I thought that this project of hers was creative; it was neat to hear lullaby versions of some of her well-known songs like one called “You” and another one called “Good Morning Sunshine.” Throughout this album, Jaci’s voice is quiet; and there are even parts in some songs where her voice kinda goes out. This particular thing would happen when she’d hit her falsetto, and whether that was intentional or not, I love that authenticity.