[tabgroup][tab title=”Willow Smith”]

Bach, move over. Satchmo, step aside. Willow Smith has arrived with some ear-wiggling tunes that you’re sure to hear at every party and club in the foreseeable future. Willow does what she likes, according to the soon-to-be-classic audio tale “21st Century Girl,” and what she likes is to rock the beat. Um, hello, we can totally get the party started, especially with the Obama name-dropping “Fireball” featuring the beautiful Nicki Minaj (my offer for sushi still stands, Nicki, hmu bb).

What’s number one on Willow’s mind? Partying. She repeats that she’s the “fireball of the party” 89 times in the song “Fireball,” which is actually useful because I found myself wondering if she was actually the fireball of the party and had those questions answered, thankfully. She repeats that she is the fireball of the party once every 2.82 seconds.

In “Whip My Hair,” Willow whips her hair back and forth 70 times. Not only is her music beautiful, comparable only to Beethoven’s 9th symphony, but it also gives quite the work out. I have short hair, so I can’t whip my hair, but I’m sure it’s a great exercise song for the longer haired folk. The drums remind me fondly of Neil Pert and sound very Rush-inspired. The drum-clapping breakdown echoes the spirit of unity that rippled through America in the 1970s.

“21st Century Girl” sounds David Guetta inspired, giving proof of Willow’s genre-breaking talents. Did David Guetta create this song? No, five people who aren’t David Guetta wrote this song. It took five people to write this—five. That’s how brilliant it is. If you ever find the party you’re at is getting a bit dull with all the dubstep music, pop in a track by Willow and watch everyone whip their hair back and forth.


[tab title=”Madonna”]

Madonna just needs to stop, it’s as simple as that. This has never been more apparent than after her latest release, MDNA. The album itself sounds alright (by modern pop standards) until you realize that someone with an age close to that of your grandmother’s is singing tracks entitled “Gang-Bang” and “Girls Gone Wild.” It’s at that point you find yourself feeling very, very dirty.

The record brings absolutely nothing new to the table. It sounds like any crappy pop record that comes out these days. Infused with sexual lyrics that make little sense and electronic beats, each song sounds like a crappy remix of itself.

She tries too hard to make the record sound like house music, with the attempted breakdowns and poorly executed synths. Even the album art and title, which is a play on the popular club drug MDMA (the main ingredient in ecstasy), show that she’s trying to fit into a scene that she just has no part in.

The question that needs to be asked is: why did she even feel the need to change in the first place? Madonna’s fans love the music she used to create, so why try to fit into a genre of music where you have no fan base? It’s almost as if we’re witnessing Madonna go through her own mid-life crisis, except it comes in the form of crappy pop music.

Madonna has always been one to try to break away from the crowd and test the boundaries of music, which is apparent in all of her other releases. But this one just seems as though she’s trying desperately to fit in with every other pop musician. You get an A for effort Madonna, but an F for execution.

The question that needs to be asked is: why did she even feel the need to change in the first place? Madonna’s fans love the music she used to create, so why try to fit into a genre of music where you have no fan base? It’s almost as if we’re witnessing Madonna go through her own mid-life crisis, except it comes in the form of crappy pop music. -NICK BATSON


[tab title=”Shinedown”]

Despite their previously successful and well-made albums, Shinedown’s Amaryllis is so boring that I could barely listen to the whole thing. Although some of the songs are kind of catchy, it’s only in that annoying “why am I listening to this again?” kind of way. The worst part is that they all sound more or less identical. If you listen to “Bully,” the first song released, you’ve pretty much heard the whole album. Just listen to the preview on iTunes; it feels like listening to one really long song.


[tab title=”The All-American Rejects”]

This album really portrays the band’s “coming of age” following the last decade’s post-Blink 182 pop-rock wave. Now focused on carefree lyrics backed by simpler themes, Tyson Ritter draws on his experiences with relationships in order to create an album that really establishes The All-American Rejects’ identity as a love-oriented hit maker with a healthy enough mixture of instrumentals to keep them tied to the rock genre. “Beekeeper’s Daughter” has the same vibe as previous hits such as “Give You Hell” and “Dirty Little Secrets,” but has a maturity that really adds to its pop-rock feel. Most of the songs on this album have a catchy beat, however, “Affection” uses an orchestra that takes the love ballad to a new level. Overall, it’s a great showcase of what the band has to offer all these years later, without over-doing it or reminding fence-sitting listeners why they stopped listening in the first place.


[tab title=”Pop. 1280″]

No frills, no gimmicks—just serial-killer-in-the-bushes-type scary punk music made by four guys from New York City. The Horror is one of the most genuinely disturbing albums that I’ve listened to in years—and also maybe one of the coolest. The songs all have a moderate tempo, fueled by an unfathomably fuzzy bass, tinny guitar riffs under the slick vocals of Ivan Lip. Pop. 1280 sounds like a nightmare where Nick Cave goes for a late-night jog in Prospect Park, falls, cracks his head on the pavement and then suddenly started playing music in front of a tree all woozy with blood still oozing out of the back of his head.


[tab title=”Nicki Minaj”]

Nicki Minaj’s witty rap verses don’t disappoint in the latest album. There are collaborations with artists 2 Chainz, Rick Ross, Cam’ron, Lil Wayne and Drake that leave a majority of the album in a strictly hip-hop zone, however, it does shift to more pop-like sounds in distinct places, like Minaj’s signature hooks and dramatic choruses. “Roman Holiday” is known mostly due to the over-the-top performance at the Grammys, but on the album, Minaj tones it down, no exorcisms here. Songs like “Come on a Cone” resemble previous hits like “Did it on ‘Em” and convey the well-respected confidence and sassiness now commonly associated with her in-your-face personality. While there have been mixed reviews of Roman Reloaded, Minaj continues to flesh out her surprisingly deep alter ego (the brash Roman Zolanski), and explores the strengths and weaknesses of her specific flavor of pop/hip-hop.


[tab title=”Rocket Juice & the Moon”]

Rocket Juice & The Moon’s first LP is a polarizing album from a polarizing supergroup, which includes the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea, Damon Albarn of Blur/the Gorillaz and Nigerian drummer Tony Allen. At some moments, the brilliance of Flea’s bass lines and Allen’s percussion click perfectly, yet the majority of the album sounds like nothing more than a boring mess. With supergroups, there is often the problem of talent clashing with chemistry, and RJ&TM is a victim of it. The album shows promise amidst the chaos, but for a group with this much talent, this is a disappointment.


[tab title=”Rascal Flatts”]

Despite the album name, the only big shift present on Rascal Flatts’ new release is that the songs on have more religious undertones than the band’s self-titled release way back in 2000. There are songs about love and longing—popular topics for Rascal Flatts—and are delivered with the expected emotion and bravado. “Banjo,” the second song on the album and a standout track is a rowdy anthem about getting out of the city life. So overall, this album delivers an array of country songs about love and religion that will get any country-lover’s boots tappin,’ but doesn’t break any new ground or push Rascal Flatts to heights.


[tab title=”Bear In Heaven”]

With their latest album, Bear In Heaven has proved that they can follow a critically acclaimed start by crafting some of the best experimental rock out there. The soundstage just feels immense; the electronic sounds intertwine seamlessly with the powerful drums, ambient guitars, vocals and the free-flowing bass, fusing together a spacey, almost shoegaze-like, harmony. While I Love You, It’s Cool doesn’t show a jump in innovation, it does just what a sophomore album should – refine and improve the band’s sound.





Contributors: Vincent Barone, Nick Batson, Dan Cashmar, Jen Novotny, Mike Pedersen, Brianna Peterson