Feed Limmy Albums of 2012: #20 – #11

Is Robyn Fenty‘s new opus Unapologetic up in here? No, hunty. I am not part of that circle jerk committee.

Feed Limmy Albums of 2012: #20 - #11

I know I promised this post would drop, like, last Tuesday or something but let’s face it – the five of us that read this countdown could probably wait until now. I had all sorts of things going on this week that kept me occupied, which didn’t involve drinking, strangely enough (I’m making for that right now as we speak).

Let’s get on with the countdown.

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Chart Feed – 12.11.12

I left y’all scratching at the post a little last week because I took my ass on a little vacaycay to Brisbane.

Chart Feed

Bitch, you should’ve seen me lounging on the beach in an island that was practically deserted on a Monday arvo. I was having a Mariah moment frolicking in the sand, trying to look cute for my Instagram photos. But hey, I am back now and here comes your chart feed – which might cover some things I didn’t get to touch on last week.

This has been a good week for Robbie Williams who scored his first simulatenous UK #1 album-and-single action in 11 years. Elsewhere, the following chart showboaters can’t complain either: Taylor SwiftCalvin Harris, Little Mix, Of Monsters and Men, The Wanted, and to a certain extent, Christina Aguilera. SAY!

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Chart Feed – 29.10.12

Pull up a seat. The beginning of what’s set to be Taylor Swift‘s global chart massacre has begun.

Chart Feed

The young country superstar has made clear she’s a force to be reckoned with on the Australian, UK and New Zealand album charts this week with her newest offering Red debuting straight at #1 in these territories. Check out the damage after the jump.

Elsewhere, it’s been a good week for Brandy, Mika, Labrinth and Emeli Sandé, Kelly Clarkson and – heck – even Girls Aloud is back on the charts.

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Leona Lewis “Glassheart” Album Review

I’ve never been in a position where I’ve felt equally frustrated and excited about a Leona Lewis album before. That’s actually a lot of passion and fuss over a “beige balladeer” most of my peers have little time for these days.

LEONA LEWIS glassheart deluxe

However, if you’ve spent any more than three minutes on this blog, you’ll find that I do rep hard for premiere female vocalists a lot of tastemakers happily dismiss as irrelevant.

Glassheart is Leona Lewis‘ third studio album and – without question – her most eclectic record to date. In its finest moments, the project captures Leona‘s preference for love-bled songs and renders it to elements of drum ‘n’ bass, trip hop, and alternative pop. All of which are sonic styles the X Factor siren has never dabbled in before.

But I’d be wary to label Glassheart as some vigorous artistic overhaul for Leona Lewis because it is sorely inconsistent in parts – and that’s where the struggle I mentioned before comes in. There’s this strange tension between the aforementioned innovative new styles and the shackles of tired “Leona-format” balladry that we’ve all heard before in her first two albums.

Glassheart just feels like one of those bodies of work that tastemakers are likely to pick apart and re-assemble in a way they see fit, much like the approach to Christina Aguilera’s Bionic.

One would give approving nods to standouts like ‘Come Alive’ – a formidable storm of grime and drum ‘n’ bass – that feels like the album’s true opener once you’ve placated Leona’s conservative fans with the single (‘Trouble’) and two dutiful ballads.



Elsewhere in ‘Glassheart’, a sinister cross-pollination of Leona‘s ethereal vocals with aggressive dub step beats hit the lights with blindingly great results.

There has never been a more exciting Leona Lewis uptempo created. It legitimately snatches wigs in the hardest way, from the cold and bemoaning verses through to the head-splitting dance breakdown.

However, that walloping bass-heavy breakdown is something of a new addition. If you play back the first performance of ‘Glassheart’ Leona did at G-A-Y a year ago when the album was originally slated to drop, you’ll find it pounding to a more poppers o’clock, Euro-dance production. Just a little bit of trivia you can share with your friends between sips of strawberry daiquiri next time you’re cruising at the bar.

However, not every square inch of Glassheart flares with ostentatious displays of new styles and colours – you would actually need to listen closely to some of these tracks to pick up the subtle flavours in Leona‘s experimentation.



The bittersweet ‘Favourite Scar’ – which samples Tears for Fears‘ ‘Head Over Heels’ – hears the Hackney diva adopt a bossier swag in the verses. The way she dismisses “it don’t matter, it don’t matter, it don’t matter… boy, you better turn up your ste-ree-oh!” sounds like something Rihanna would put down.

Props must be given to the diverse producers and songwriters who collaborated with Leona to make Glassheart sound as vital as it does.

Emeli Sandé – one of the most celebrated breakthrough British artists this year – lends her songwriting abilities to three tracks on the album’s final tracklisting. It’s a stellar collaboration that I never wanna see diminished in any way because these two talents fit each other so damn well.

The most memorable of Sandé’s contributions is ‘I To You’ – a smouldering, strings-soaked James Bond-theme in waiting that casts Leona as a love-imprisoned siren, delivering line after line of intense drama.

“I will stay home with the kids, everyday cleaning up where you live even though I’m educated. ‘Cause you are great, you are big. And I don’t mind givin’ in, givin’ in for free, for free. You are love, you are sin, you’ll always be everything, everything to me… What am I to you?”

My personal appreciation of ‘I To You’ comes hand-in-hand with a relief in hearing Leona deliver a song so capably without the vocal acrobatics and escalation to glass-piercing high notes she is typically known for.



Elsewhere, the album’s next single ‘Fireflies’ is constructed on and driven by an emotive piano melody so stunning in its own right, it almost absorbs the spotlight from everything else happening in the song – including the gospel vocals and Leona‘s crescendoing ad libs.

I mean, there’s a time and place for it, I’m not in favour of stamping out those vocal tricks in Leona‘s repertoire per se, because in the context of the right song it can be so fucking electric.

‘Lovebird’ – which is a textbook example of your standard Leona Lewis/Ryan Tedder ballad – is shining proof that the winning formula is what it is for a reason. I fucking broke down in tears behind the steering wheel when I first heard the massive break up ballad. The lyrical themes of growing apart from someone you love and that guilt-ridden desire to want to be set free felt like it was written about my last relationship.

“But the time went on, the wind has blown, and I have grown. And I started feeling that my wings have been broken. And I can’t believe that I ever want to be set free, but I just can’t stay. So your love bird’s flying away…”

The intensely personal song was of course written about Leona’s own separation from her long-term boyfriend, who she had known since she was 10.

There are some extraordinary songs written on this album that just sound like honest and vulnerable accounts of love’s many kinds of bruises. Although, Leona’s no stranger to singing tortured break up ballads in her six-year discography, they feel chillingly personal this time around.

Glassheart feels like a worthwhile investment in establishing the singer’s versatility even if it wasn’t a committed effort from start to finish. The overall quality of the songs on this album is the stronger than any of Leona‘s previous releases, which I think more than compensates for her dwindling record sales and general commercial relevance.

Footnotes:

Leona LewisGlassheart debuted at #3 on the UK charts, making it her first album to not enter the British charts at #1. There is no Australian release date confirmed as yet, so I’ve imported by copy of the deluxe edition, y’all.

The project’s proper lead single ‘Trouble’ (remember, she’s pretending that ‘Collide’ never happened) managed to peak at #7, while the album’s title track ‘Glassheart’ cracked the UK Dance charts at #27, based on downloads alone in the week the album came out.

Chart Feed – 22.10.12

Well this is a really good value Chart Feed compilation, I have to say. Well, as good as it can be without Girls Aloud and Brandy to really discuss, of course. So until then, you just have to deal.

CHARTFEED

This has been a good week for our Aussie pop prince Guy Sebastian and songbird Delta Goodrem, new girlband sensation Little Mix and triumphantly, Taylor Swift matches Adele‘s US digital song chart record.

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Chart Feed – 01.10.12

“Oppa gangnam style!” *drops the beat*

CHART FEED

You know when your parents start to recognise a internet viral music video that it’s well and truly time for everyone else to move on.

It has been a tremendous week for K-pop sensation PSY‘s ‘Gangnam Style’, not only is it officially the most ‘liked’ video in the history of the internet – the track has also successfully topped the Australian and UK charts to become the first Korean pop single to do so.

Its crossover chart success in the Western market is just mind-blowing, no doubt bringing a whole lot of national pride for South Koreans everywhere.

Elsewhere, it has also been a great week for Pink, Mumford and Sons, Conor Maynard, Brandy and Christina “I think you already know my weight!” Aguilera.

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Leona Lewis ‘Trouble’ Music Video

I see some of y’all are prematurely wrapping a bow on the proverbial coffin of Leona Lewis‘ career.

LEONA LEWIS TROUBLE MUSIC VIDEO

It’s hard to believe that the top-selling British X Factor diva who once put a wrecking ball to the charts with ‘Bleeding Love’ is now struggling to get an inch of anyone’s care factor.

Leona‘s latest single ‘Trouble’ – co-written by Emeli Sandé – is the first sign of life from her forthcoming third studio album Glassheart, which was presumed dead when it was abruptly pulled from the release schedule last year following the lacklustre results of her dance single ‘Collide’.

‘Trouble’ takes Leona back to where she fits best: making moody ballads. The song is something of a slight masterpiece with nods to Massive Attack. For the kids playing at home who prefer a more present-time reference, ‘Trouble’ stirs the soul in a similar fashion to Emeli Sandé‘s own single ‘Daddy’ – which was also produced by Naughty Boy.

LEONA LEWIS TROUBLE VIDEO

The music video for ‘Trouble’ – which stars Teen Wolf adonis Colton Haynes – feels like a whole lot of smoke but no fire. For a song that bears such descriptive and emotive lyrics, you would expect for the video’s narrative to not just reflect its themes but take it to a whole new level.

The song’s retelling of a tumultuous relationship with a troubled individual was not fully realised in the video. What was so dark about Leona’s character in this video? You see her repeatedly dropping her head to her hands, singing she’s a “whole lot of trouble” – but there was no real indication that she was.

So, the couple had a fight, and pillows and glasses were thrown. Isn’t that a pretty typical outcome when two people squabble over possession of the TV remote?

The whole time you’re sitting here with your bowl of Coco Pops, spoon suspended before your lips in anticipation of something more, you get no insight into her character.

I would’ve loved it if they threw in shots of Leona collecting her possessions after getting bailed out of jail, sitting in a brightly lit room in a support group circle, perhaps even revelations of a vanity cupboard full of prescription medication. Y’know, the kinda gritty shit a vanilla-fairy floss-and-unicorns popstar like Leona wouldn’t be expected to do.

LEONA LEWIS COLTON HAYNES

Snaps where snaps are due – the styling and cinematography here is looking well on point. Director Raul B Fernandez – who has done music videos like We The Kings‘ ‘We’ll Be A Dream’ and Port O’Brien‘s ‘My Will is Good’ – draws out the heavy mind games behind the characters with great finesse.

This was probably best depicted in the party scene with the couple’s knowing glances and forced interactions, followed by the chilling disconnect when they are alone in the lift. Man, did that hit close to home for me.

Watch the music video for ‘Trouble’:



Footnotes:

Leona Lewis will turn out ‘Trouble’ in the UK on 5 October, a week before her Glassheart album arrives there.

She is set to perform that weekend on the UK X Factor to promote the single’s arrival, so strategically-speaking she should get a decent Top 5 debut out of it.