Not a particularly stellar week of new material to cover. At this time of year many of the new releases are compilations, greatest hits packages and holiday records. Nothing wrong with any of these formats but I’m not planning to cover compilations or greatest hits and we’ll save our review of holiday albums until we’ve heard from the Beiber.
Add It To The Collection…Sometimes you just get it right the first time. In the case of the inaugural season of American Idol, I believe the judges and viewers got things very right when Kelly Clarkson was crowned the first Idol back in 2002 (has it really been that long?). From the beginning there was no denying Clarkson’s big voice and vocal ability, but what impresses me is her consistent growth as an artist over the course of five studio albums, including her latest, Stronger. Unlike many of her contemporaries, Clarkson is very involved in the song-writing and production of her albums. She also chooses her material wisely. On Stronger we see an artist almost 10 years in to her career and about to turn 30 years old. This isn’t typical bubble-gum pop and the lyrical content covers everything from struggles with her weight to questions about her sexuality to growing up in the public eye. Clarkson’s deeply personal stories are relayed over some pretty catchy tunes with big hooks and danceable beats. Must-have track: “Mr. Know It All”
Worth another listen… Brian Wilson continues his prolific return to recording with his second consecutive collection of classic American songs from the last century – 2010’s Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin had Wilson covering ten George and Ira Gershwin songs with his trademark Beach Boys sound. This time, Wilson returns with In The Key Of Disney, a collection of Disney tunes from popular films recorded, once again, in Wilson’s style with new arrangements and harmonies galore. What is interesting about this collection is how Wilson manages to make some very iconic songs sound fresh and new while also removing some of the Disney schmaltz along the way. This is the perfect album to introduce younger listeners to the classic Beach Boys sound. Must-have track: “We Belong Together” – Randy Newman + Brian Wilson + Disney’s Toy Story 3 = Pure Magic.