Saturday, November 24, 2007

Are you my cure for addiction, are you love's definition, or just bad for my health?

The Los Angeles Times reviewed Blake Lewis's upcoming album Audio Day Dream today--you can read the full thing here, but here are the most important excerpts in regards to what it sounds like:

On "Audio Day Dream" -- the title is a play on attention-deficit disorder -- Lewis tries hard to pack in everything he loves about music, flitting from Coldplay-style balladry ("Without You") to synthed-up electro-funk ("Break Anotha") to defanged hip-hop ("Know My Name," which features a cameo by Lupe Fiasco) [note from me: the leaked version is apparently an early unfinished version and it will, as this article mentions, feature rapper Lupe Fiasco; also on the subject of this song, apparently it's about/inspired by Natalie Portman]. He knows how narrow the window is for proving himself worthy of his audience's interest, so he's reimagined the debut album as a highlight reel.

Though it features input by industry heavyweights J.R. Rotem and Mike Elizondo, Lewis' principal collaborator on "Audio Day Dream" is songwriter and producer Ryan Tedder, whose band OneRepublic's "Apologize" (a collaboration with Timbaland) has ruled Top 40 radio this fall. Tedder and Lewis trick out their mercilessly catchy tunes with loads of delicious ear candy: In "Gots to Get Her," they layer a vocal melody inspired by "Puttin' on the Ritz" over fluttering acoustic guitars and triumphant R&B horns, while "Surrender" pairs grinding Depeche Mode keyboards with a pounding hard-rock beat.

"Idol" has produced several terrific vocalists, but it hasn't really yielded an artist as obsessed with sound as Lewis is. His singing on "Audio Day Dream" is fine; it gets the job done. Yet what arrests your ear are Lewis' ideas. With any luck, he'll get the opportunity to keep developing them.

Those last few sentences really capture why I was so excited by the possibilities Blake represented while on Idol--not so much because of his voice (though I like it and would much rather listen to him singing than the U.S.'s main male pop singer) but because of the sort of music he would (I hoped) be likely to make.

In further Blake news, I think I remember reading somewhere that there were more intros/outros than just those listed on the tracklist on Amazon--something like each song having them or something. It's also looking more and more obvious that he/his label/his management are doing the promoting after the album comes out, not beforehand. I hope that's a good idea, but I still feel iffy about it. There are pictures from the filming of the video that show him and a band in front of a green screen...so that really doesn't tell us much. Oh, speaking of the video, here are some more excerpts about it and the album from MTV:

"I worked with so many amazing people on this record, and the title came from this concept I came up with for the album," he explained. "I wanted to make a hip-hop mixtape or a great electronic mix — just one mix, start to finish, that takes you on a journey through metal, drum-and-bass with scratching on it to Michael Jackson pop into Erasure into Depeche Mode into some dub reggae. This album goes everywhere, and it was an amazing process to work on it. There's a song on the record that's [the Police's] 'Every Breath You Take' meets [1984 film] 'The NeverEnding Story.' "

Lewis worked with a cornucopia of producers on A.D.D., including OneRepublic's Ryan "Alias" Tedder, Sam Watters, J.R. Rotem, BT, David Hodges, Mike Elizondo, S*A*M and Sluggo, and Sean Hurley. The set features a guest spot by Lupe Fiasco, and fellow "Idol" finalist Chris Richardson even co-wrote a track. Lewis recently finished working on the video for the LP's first single, "Break Anotha," which was shot against a green screen and has an interesting concept behind it.

"It's hard to describe, but you know how when you open Rorschach inkblot tests, how they have two different sides? It's going to be like that," he said. "There's going to be, like, ink and water, and different effects behind me that come in."

It's funny he mentions those inkblot tests, since one of the videos for frequent collaborator Ryan Tedder's band's "Apologize" makes me think of those.

In non-Blake news, three great sites have recently undergone remodeling or relocating and look great: The Zapping is all dressed up for Christmas, I'm Always Right is now at Adem With An E, and Lost In Limbo is now Popology.tv.

5 comments:

Digital Technique said...

Am getting v excited about the Blake Lewis album - he could possibly be my favourite AI contestant ever!! :D

Poster Girl said...

Ditto both for me as well! I'm trying not to get my hopes too high because he might need more time to refine his sound and ideas, what with the Idol standard being the first album is usually pretty disposable compared to the second, but it's difficult to avoid getting excited :D

paul @ www.thezapping.com said...

I too am excited about the BL album (please let him marry leona lewis so she can be Leona Lewis-Lewis) and this review gives me hope. And faith. After the mediocrity shining forth from Shayne Ward's latest album (he is now on his final warning) this had better restore my faith in buffboypop...

J'ason D'luv said...

Is it Blake or Shayne who does a cover of "Just Be Good To Me" on their new album? Either way, I'll likely check out Blake... mostly because he's a hot piece of tail.

I love that he referenced Hip hop, reggae, Depeche Mode and Erasure as his influences for the record.

Poster Girl said...

Paul, you know how disappointed I am about the Shayne album :( It's really made me worried about Blake's! And you know, Blake has worked a lot with Ryan Tedder, who co-wrote "Bleeding Love," so...

Speaking of buff/hot, boy better start doing something because in the last interview I saw he is starting to look awful close to someone I know and not in a good way. I mean, as long as he keeps doing songs that I love as much as "Break Anotha," I'll be happy, but still...

J'ason, I think that must be code for "I really have no idea what I want to sound like." I was particularly amused by another of his statements, too--what do we think music that sounds like the movie The Never Ending story sounds like? Or, more seriously, is he talking about the Moroder-composed theme song?