Friday, November 30, 2007

Got no shame

Blah blah blah more Blake news blah...

Yes, it's more news about Blake Lewis, but--much as it might seem like it--I'm not posting every time I find out new news--I managed to refrain from dedicating a post yesterday to the fact that you can now listen to clips of all the songs on the album here (I'm not listening; I'm going to [try to] wait until I've got the actual physical album before I listen to anything else from it that I haven't already heard; the fact that someone compared one of the songs to 'N Sync's "Pop," which I so wanted Blake to cover during Idol, nearly made me break that vow, though)--you've got to love how there's already a review bashing it and a review praising it based on no more than those clips--or to the fact that his official site is now up and running.

The main justification for this post for this post, though, is Billboard's review of the album.

One can't help but proceed with caution when an album is named after Attention Deficit Disorder, especially when the artist caught his break by beatboxing on a reality TV show where he used to sing the praises of 311. But skeptics can relax: "American Idol" season six runner-up Blake Lewis' debut, "ADD: Audio Day Dream," is indeed a little all over the map, but, surprisingly, it works. Unlike other run-of-the-mill debuts from former "Idol" contests, "ADD" is packed with electro-funk jams, hip-hop beats and soaring ballads that explode with Lewis' personality and uniqueness. Taking cues from Justin Timberlake ("Break Anotha"), Erasure ("End of the World"), Prince ("She's Makin' Me Lose It") and the Police ("1,000 Miles"), Lewis gives fans plenty to get excited about here, even those with short attention spans.

By the time this album actually comes out, Blake and reviewers are going to have mentioned literally every artist who ever released something in the '80's and half the male popstars of today, aren't they?

There's also a review of the Lupe Fiasco-featuring version of "Know My Name" (with a tiny bit about the album) here, which, presuming you've heard the leaked version, would probably only be interesting to you if you want to have some idea of what Lupe raps, or if you're *cough* being obsessive.

Quick edit to say that Entertainment Weekly's review (titled, though you can't see it there, "Half Blaked") is far from positive. Some excerpts:

[W]hile most of Lewis' tracks begin or end with a sputtering smattering of simulated vocal percussion — on top of a half-dozen interludes of the 'boxing s-s-st-st-stuff — the remaining 90 percent of the CD finds him trying to do what he doesn't do best: sing.

If there's a genre for his vocal style, it's ''poor man's Adam Levine.'' He certainly doesn't have the Maroon 5 frontman's chops, so a lot of Lewis' overproduced cuts keep him in a comfort zone where he can jump from midrange into a falsetto, bypassing too many pesky high notes. Emotion hardly factors in, with Lewis dead-set on asserting himself as the lothario who'll mosey into the club and steal your girlfriend (''What'cha Got 2 Lose?''). He's aiming to be the hip-hop-slang-slinging sibling of his brother-in-beatboxing, Justin Timberlake. But he's a pretty puppyish stud.

The pimp behind this transformation is Ryan ''Alias'' Tedder, the OneRepublic songwriter who co-penned and co-produced eight ADD tracks — and who's bent on doing for Lewis what Tedder's mentor, Timbaland, helped do for Timberlake. But Tedder's touch doesn't extend far beyond lyrical come-ons (''I'm givin' in to ya/You're givin' in to me/So give it away'') and halfway-realized hooks. Of his material, ''Gots to Get Her'' is the only real standout, and that's partly because it borrows so much of its rhythmic cadence from ''Puttin' on the Ritz'' that Lewis and Tedder share credit with Irving Berlin.

Remember him singing the Cure's ''Love Song'' on Idol? While he's no Robert Smith, he can at least aspire to ape Smith's lesser synth-pop contemporaries like Heaven 17. ''How Many Words'' and ''1000 Miles'' do an okay job of recalling New Romantic crooners who eked out careers by being sorta suave. If Lewis could just find a way to integrate all his early-MTV influences (A Flock of Fat Boys?), well...that album wouldn't be great either — though it'd be less forgettable than this exercise in pop adequacy.

DOWNLOAD THIS: "Gots To Get Her"

The real key thing for this album is probably going to be the hooks, so the "halfway-realized hooks" part is worrying and, if true, a very good and important point to make. Otherwise, "overproduced" + "synth-pop" + "puppyish stud" = sign me up! Although that first sentence I quoted is quite the "zing," it (and the first paragraph, which I left out) kind of misses the point--it was never Blake's voice nor even his beatboxing that was the really exciting part of him on Idol or in terms of his potential (though the beatboxing was a great tool for exciting performances, I don't think your average viewer really cared whether Blake was an amazing beatboxer or an average one); for me, it's the style and, yes, the ideas that hooked me in. We just have to wait for the album to arrive to see how it all pans out.


Yuяi said...

Obsessive?! No way! I would never say that about you! :P

I've been on the lookout for other leaks and I've come to the conclusion that I must not be as hooked up as I used to be, or either Blake's keeping his shit locked up tight. I'm thinking it has to be me!

Can't wait for Tuesday tho.

J'ason D'luv said...

Oh my God. "Half-Blaked"....brilliant.

Poster Girl said...

I'm definitely building this all up so much that I'm going to be let down. Sigh. And going overboard ;) Either they're doing a good job of keeping it all locked up...or just no one cares enough about it/thinks there's enough interest to leak it.

J'ason, I know--whoever wrote this has a way with puns and zings. Not as good as "Relight My Fryer," though.

Poster Girl said...

Oh, I forgot to mention that some of Blake's Internet promotion techniques are, ummm, odd to say the least :-/ Let's just say I'll be focusing only on the music itself.

paul @ said...

i'm very very excited about the new Blake album. That outfit he has on in the pic though is a little busy :) Still i would rather see an album from an idol that tries to be different and fails, than the same safe route trotted out in the past.

Poster Girl said...

Yeah, I'm not really getting the dogs. I keep just seeing the white splotch and--never mind. But yeah. Still better than some of the dubious outfits he's been trotting out lately, though ;)