Tag Archives: rihanna

Review: Mylo Xyloto by Coldplay

One of the hardest things to do with Coldplay is to categorize their style of music. As they start their second decade on the music scene, they’ve went from doing alternative/indie rock in the early 2000s, to evolving into one of the biggest pop-rock bands on the planet. Their new album, Mylo Xyloto, will not simplify the task.

With the singles they released prior to the album launch, which is next Monday, October 24th, die-hard fans of Parachutes already know they will be disappointed. Kanye West once said something like: “People are always waiting for an artist to remake his first album, but he never will. A good artist evolves.” This is true in every genre, not just hip-hop, and Coldplay are a good example of this. While Mylo Xyloto has shades of the pre-X&Y era, it definitely draws its inspiration from Viva la Vida. The sound of Mylo Xyloto is at some times very predictable, while it is completely surprising at other moments.

Alternating between soft ballads and pop-rock anthems, the new Coldplay album brings in a new atmosphere never felt before in any LP they’ve released. Powerful synths can be heard throughout, bringing the orchestral and grandiose feeling of past Coldplay records to new heights. The best example of this is Princess of China with Rihanna. While a lot of people will hate on this song because they brought a pop-star in their production, the power and feeling of the song cannot be denied. Chris Martin and Rihanna’s voices complete each other marvellously, accompanied by the bewitching melody of the track.

Fans of songs like Sparks or Amsterdam will be pleased by the simple yet nostalgic melodies that tracks like U.F.O. or Us Against the World bring to the album, while fans of White Shadows and Shiver are more likely to enjoy Major Minus and Charlie Brown, two tracks that emanate with energy.

If you’re stuck in the beginning of the new millenium and have not enjoyed what Coldplay has released lately, you might want to skip this album and drown your sadness in bands like Arcade Fire or Interpol. But if you can handle the evolution and you also enjoy the likes of The Killers and U2, then definitely check out Mylo Xyloto. It is a refreshing album that still breathes the original Coldplay vibe, while bringing new and interesting flavours to an already incredible sound.

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Kanye West – All of the Lights

Not sure what to think about this one, directed by Hype Williams. One of the best songs of the year, that’s for sure, but the video…

I love the cop cars sequences, the lighting looks amazing and Kanye’s intensity is hard to match. I’m not sure about the seizure-style typography and the Rihanna sequences, even though her outfit is sexy as hell. Sorry Yeezy, I don’t think you put out a video that matched the caliber of the song.

Top 5 everything of 2010

Once again, as hard as it is to believe, another year has almost already passed by and it seems like yesterday I was having dinner with the family at my uncle’s house for New Year’s day for this new decade. The more time passes by, the more it seems to fly away at the speed of light, and I’m again left wondering if this year will be the one where I’ll have time to do everything I’ve planned for the coming 365 days. Of course, it will not happen, but, before this year ends, I did manage to find some time to look back on 2010 and realize how good a year this has been. And, since the only things I’ve seen on social networks in the past days are Top 10s and Recaps, I decided I’d make my own Top 5. Ok, I’ve cheated on some categories, some are top 5 with honorable mentions, others may contain only 3 winners, but, you get the point.

This is of course my own personal opinion. No stats, no results, no expert analysis, just my own totally subjective, sometimes biased opinion. Let’s start it off.

BEST ALBUMS

1. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
I said it recently, and I stand with my first impression, this is the album of the year, and critics (aka Rolling Stone Magazine) seem to agree. The creativity, the originality and the “I don’t care what you think of me” attitude that emanates from this album make it impossible to ignore. Mr. West has taken his music one step further and created a sound of his own, and for that, you get my gold medal Kanye.

2. Eminem – Recovery
Wouldn’t it have been for Kanye, first place would have gone to Mr. Mathers. Recovery is the return of the king, the road to redemption fulfilled for Eminem. It is his most mature album yet, and I think I’ll dare to say it also is his best album. It may not contain as many classics as The Eminem Show or The Marshall Mathers LP, but the overall ride on which Eminem takes you with his latest album is definitely something no Em fan has ever witnessed before. A must for any fan of hip-hop.

3. The Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
The Montreal band proved to the world that they are a force to be reckoned with this album. Their sound is unique, the lyrics are profound, and the overall experience that you go through while listening to The Suburbs is definitely something special that not many bands can match. For me, this is an instant classic, something that my iTunes play-count can start to fear.

4. Jònsi – Go
The Sigur Ros vocalist/guitarist released a solo album back in April, and I did not listen to it until earlier this month. To be honest, I’ve lonely listened to it twice, so I don’t feel like I know this album too well, but I couldn’t leave it off this list. This is musical ecstasy. Whether they make you joyful or nostalgic, Jonsi’s exotic melodies are sure to spark a lot of emotions inside you. It is hard to describe, so the best thing I can say is, buy it and let yourself be immersed by the sound of it, you will not regret it.

5. B.o.B. – The Adventures of Bobby Ray
Probably the hardest position to fill, because the list of contenders was endless, but B.o.B. had to have his place in my 2010 year. I listened to this album countless times during my trip to Costa Rica, and it just has a special feel every time I listen to it. Even if this is his first LP, B.o.B. shows an incredible maturity as an artist, mixing super catchy commercial pop songs with more dramatic, serious tracks on which the lyrics are certain to make some hip-hop veterans jealous. The artists collaborations are original (Hayley Williams, Rivers Cuomo…) and it is just a good, easy to listen album. Plus, Airplanes has to be one of the greatest hip-hop songs released in the past 5 years, so for all that, I raise my hat to B.o.B. who fills in the last position of my top 5 for albums.

Honorable mentions
Bonobo – Black Sands
Misteur Valaire – Golden Bombay
Travie McCoy – Lazarus

BEST MOVIES
Important notice: I have been a total failure as a 2010 movie-watcher. I’ve watched countless “classics” on my To-See list, but I’ve just not been into the new movies this year. I haven’t seen Social Network, Black Swan, Toy Story 3… So, this is of course my own best of, where I’m sure some of the movies I’ve just named would have had their place had I seen them.

1. Inception
How can this not be the best movie of the year ? It is a cinematic masterpiece, incredibly intelligent, well shot and brilliantly acted. Christopher Nolan raised the bar to another level with a very original story, brought to life by shining performances from DiCaprio and company. An instant classic in every genre, a movie that will be talked about for years.

2. The Killer Inside Me
Western movies are more and more noticeable nowadays since they are becoming more of a rare thing, but this one really slipt under my radar. I watched it just a few weeks ago, and I really enjoyed it. Casey Affleck is incredible, to the point he should easily be nominated for an Oscar. The mood of the movie is scary, tense, and the story really sucks you in. It is brutal, violent, sometimes disturbing, but always intriguing. A must-see, at least only to witness Affleck’s brilliance.

3. The Book of Eli
This movie did not get very good reviews, as do all of Denzel Washington’s films for the last 5 years. But I think critics were a bit harsh and have failed to see the strong points that this movie has to offer. It is visually flawless, every image is sure to make you wow at your screen. It might not be Denzel’s best performance, but you can’t say so for Gary Oldman’s. He just shines in his role as the bad guy and shows he’s one of the most versatile actors in Hollywood nowadays. Plus, the fight scenes, and especially the gun-fights are masterfully directed and now have a place in my personal best combat scenes in cinema history. Plus the ending is just incredibly surprising.

4. Ghost Writer
Roman Polanski’s latest film has a sort of Woody Allen feel, with endless dialogues and a fairly old style of editing, which make it stand out. The intrigue is good and the always entertaining Ewan McGregor is very good in the leading role. Not your typical Hollywood blockbuster, but it’s really worth a watch.

5. The Town
I rented this movie 4 hours before writing this blog post, as it was, surprisingly, on most 2010 best-of lists. You should have seen my level of skepticism before watching this film. I’m really not a Ben Affleck fan, but I decided to give it a chance. Surprise of the year for me. This is a very entertaining thriller, in which Affleck shows talent as both director and actor. The acting award in the film will definitely go to Jeremy Renner though, who is so believable in his role that you could think the producers found a guy from the projects to play in their movie. You won’t fall in love with the other characters, but they show some kind of depth, enough to make you enjoy this film, along with its good heist scenes.

MUSIC VIDEOS

1. Jay-Z – On to the Next One
One might wonder why this is taking the pole position, and it is for only one reason: It’s a music video. Hurricane and Runaway are closer to short films than music vids. Jay-Z’s video, directed by Sam Brown, portrays a funeral through multiple black and white, highly aesthetic images. It was the first music video released in 2010, and in my opinion, it is still the best. It is a shame it didn’t win any awards at the VMA, but let’s be honest, the VMAs are pretty much meaningless. Jay-Z proved once again his immense artistic talent by releasing a video of this caliber, and the 41-year-old rapper also proved he’s here to stay.

2. Kanye West – Runaway (extended edition)
Here it is, the video that will be at the top position of everybody’s list in 2010, and it deserves it. While to me this is a short film, it redefined what music videos are. It is artistic, different, colorful. It delivers powerful messages, and it is accompanied by one of the best soundtracks ever. As I said in my previous blog post, this is sure to make history with the likes of Thriller.

3. 30 Seconds to Mars – Hurricane
Another video that should be considered a short film, Hurricane will probably have its place in history also. While less visually appealing than Runaway, Hurricane is controversial, sexually offending, twisted, and beautiful. A video that the American public is not ready to see at all (and it got banned for that), and because of that, Jared Leto’s band deserves a lot of recognition. They dared, and succeeded in creating commotion.

4. Eminem – Love the way you lie
Eminem’s real comeback in the music video scene, because Not Afraid was definitely not it. This is also a controversial video that caused a heart stroke to America, because of its reference to domestic violence and dysfunctional relationships. Joseph Kahn used his enormous experience to direct a video that suits the song like few videos have been able to. The cinematography is amazing, Megan Fox and Dominic Monaghan are good in their main roles and the Eminem/Rihanna duo just fills the screen with presence and intensity. One of the best videos of the year on all aspects.

5. Linkin Park – The Catalyst
Joe Hahn has slowly made the transition from turntablist to director for Linkin Park, and this change shows how much talent the guy has. He was a great DJ (he still is in fact) and is now one of my favorite director in the music video domain. His creativity is unmatched, and everything he does just fits the Linkin Park style beautifully. The Catalyst is no exception. The imagery is innovative, the editing is on-point and the Linkin Park guys really give one hell of a performance. Great use of slow motion throughout.

Honorable mentions
Lady Gaga – Bad Romance
Linkin Park – Waiting for the End
B.o.B. – Airplanes

TV SHOWS

1. Breaking Bad – Season 3
Discovery of the year for me, TV-wise. A fresh, original concept with actors Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul playing two of the most fascinating characters to ever appear on TV. Be warned, this, like many other series, is highly addictive. Sometimes humorous, sometimes dramatic, and seldom highly violent, this show will get you through the whole set of emotions, and will also kill your social life, second warning here !

2. Entourage – Season 7
The second-to-last season of the series aired this summer, and deceived no fan. Vince, E, Drama, Turtle, and especially Ari were back in full force, with new relationships, new insults and new adventures. The dialogues were once again a work of genius, and Vince’s breakdown was amazingly put together. The Cameos were entertaining and the complicity between the characters was once again something so entertaining to watch that every episode made you wish you had their lives. If you haven’t started to watch Entourage at all, I also envy your life, because you’re in for 7 seasons of never -before-seen laughter and entertainment. Start now !

3. Sportscentre – Morning Show on TSN
Probably the most unexpected winner of my entire top 2010 list, but I couldn’t pass by it. Jay Onrait and Dan O’toole are the best start of my day, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year. They redefine sports news with their incredible sense of humour and amazing charisma. They don’t take themselves seriously at all, they’re spontaneous and it gives a whole other perspective to everyday sports news.

Honorable mentions
Mad Men

BEST ADVERTISEMENTS

1. Dulux – Let’s color
Adam Berg takes the prize two years in a row for me, with his masterpiece Carousel for Philips last year. The whole concept of this Dulux ad is so good that it goes beyond the final TV spot. The fact they used local people and gave them the chance to put some color back into their dull scenery is amazing, and the fact that they were able to render this live process into such a beautiful advertisement is just brilliant. This is advertisement at another level.

2. Nike – Write the Future
The biggest sports event in the world of course means, the best advertisements in the world, and W+K knew that they havd to give it their best shot, and they didn’t fail. This ad pictures the World Cup vibe with such epicness and bigger than nature reactions that it clearly makes it the best ad of the tournament. The overall idea is so clever and the production value is unbelievable.

3. Sussex Safer Roads – Embrace Life
A beautiful alternative to encourage people to always wear their seat belts, Embrace Life succeeded in doing what all the gory, violent ads about car accidents couldn’t. The ad created an enormous buzz on the web, and probably saved more lives today than any other commercial. The concept is so well-thought and the imagery is spectacular.

4. Gaz Metro – A Natural Evolution
It takes great patience and dedication to tackle a project like this one, but it takes incredible talent and vision to make a project like this one look as good as this. This entire ad, conceptualized by Sid Lee, was done in stop-motion over 4 nights and with more than 1500 pieces of chalk. The animation is unbelievably fluid considering it’s stop motion and the visual is spectacular. Another considerable piece by one of the most creative agencies in the world.

5. LG – Something Lurkingg
One of the toughest spot on which to deliberate, the final slot of my entire top 2010 goes to the very recent LG ad, created by Y&R and the masters of animation, Psyop. Read a couple of posts prior to this one to know how amazed I was by this ad.

Honorable mentions
Adidas – Cantina 2010
Sony – Eye Candy
Audi – The Art of Progress
BBC – Honk If You’re Human
AT&T – Rethink Possible

This is it ! Probably the most time I’ve ever invested in a blogpost. I hope, even if you don’t agree 100% with me, that this will make you discover some gems in the media domain and give you things to entertain you during this one-to-two-week holiday that is coming up. This will most likely be my last blogpost of 2010, so in advance, I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year !

Eminem’s Love The Way You Lie

Probably this year’s most anticipated video, Love The Way You Lie from Eminem and Rihanna, premiered last Thursday night on MTV. Along with being the #1 song on the charts right now, the song is creating a lot of buzz because of its controversial lyrics, treating about love/hate relationships and domestic violence. More than that, the fact that the two artists singing in this song have had their share of violent relationships (Em with ex-wife Kim and Rihanna with ex-boyfriend Chris Brown) is sure to cause some commotion.

Well, the video just put some more oil in the fire. It features actors Dominic Monaghan and Megan Fox portrayed in a very unstable relationship, with passionate love moments at some times, followed by intense violence scenes.

Veteran director Joseph Kahn did an incredible job at creating an intense video that gets to you and won’t leave you indifferent. The cinematography is pristine: the shots of Eminem performing in a field look amazing, with some fast-motion travelings and intense flares colliding with the lens. Not being a fan of Megan Fox (by that I of course mean her acting talents…), I have to admit that she and Monaghan are very believable in their mute roles. Rihanna is as usual a shinning star in every single shot she appears in, and the progression of her performance along with the revealing of the background in front of which she sings are just incredible. At first you would swear she is singing in front of lit candles, just to realize later that she’s actually in front of a burning house.

The video is already causing some controversy, with some people saying it is a great video that sends a message, from people who have had experiences with the subject treated, while others look at it as a glorification of violence. Either way, people are talking about this video, and that alone means that Team Eminem have scored big with this one.

Here are some videos from MTV news of Monaghan speaking about his experience shooting this video.

Eminem’s Recovery review

It’s become almost a habit for rap artists to have their albums leaked on the Internet before their official release dates. Marshall Mathers is of course the latest artist to be a victim of the world wide web. His highly-anticipated album, Recovery, scheduled to release on June 22nd, was released earlier this week on the web. Is it a marketing stunt or an honest mistake from someone in Eminem’s entourage ? We’ll probably never know, but what is sure though, is that Eminem’s new album is absolutely amazing.

His last release, Relapse, received harsh criticism, and it deserved it. Eminem really delivered a sub-par album, and Encore, the one before that, was also a let down compared to his previous masterpieces. Slim Shady does his Mea Culpa on Recovery, admitting that his 2 last albums did not live up to the expectations, and he backs it up with some incredible beats and lyrics.

The album starts off with Cold Wind Blows, a track that awfully sounds like a Dre beat, but the credits say that Just Blaze produced it. This satiric song introduces the good old Em into this new 17-track CD. Then the album carries right into Talkin’ 2 Myself, featuring Kobe. The song takes the satire away and presents deep and emotional lyrics, which is one of my favorite songs on the album. Further down the tracklist, you’ll find incredible collaborations, including Won’t Back Down featuring Pink, which is probably the most unexpected artist to ever feature on an Eminem track. Love the way you lie is another emotional song with Rihanna singing the chorus, adding a lot of feeling to the track. Those two tracks are sure to invade radio waves in the coming weeks.

Lyric-wise, Marshall Mathers proves once again that he is probably the best lyricist to ever be born on this planet. The rhymes are incredible, his flow is unmatched and the honesty and the message delivered throughout his words are sure to make you rewind the songs a couple of times and give you shivers.

My expectations were sky-high for this album after Em dissed his own Relapse album on Not Afraid, his first single. Well, he definitely knows what the expression walk the talk means. This is an amazing album that is sure to make die-hard Slim Shady fans believe in their hero again after a couple of let downs. Eminem is back, stronger than ever.

Rihanna’s “Hard” video

If there’s one female pop artist I respect in this whole industry, it is definitely Rihanna. In a few years (her breakthrough was in 2005) she’s managed to grow from a pre-made out-of-the-mold pop star to a trend-setter artist. A lot of people accuse her of making darker and darker music, but I think it just sets her apart in the world of pop music (even though her music is really more in the R&B/Hip-Hop/Rock genre) and I have to say that I really like Rated-R.

To prove once more that she is now a fashion icon, she went all out with the costumes in her new video Hard featuring Young Jeezy. The art direction for this video is completely out of this world, photography direction is far from going under the radar too, and Rihanna’s sexy performance is one to remember. Director Melina Matsoukas really outdid herself for this video.

It’s hard (yeah, wordplay) to find a high-quality version on the web right now, but there are a few places to check it out, especially on Rihanna‘s website. There’s a behind the scenes video also to see. Enjoy !

Amazing show but cheap design for AMA 2009

Tonight was the 2009 American Music Awards broadcasted live on ABC, and I have to say it was quite a show. The performances were for the most part pretty amazing, and the setup looked really good.

But seriously, who designed the packaging for the show ? It looked like a cheap 1998 game show packaging. If anyone knows please drop it in the comments.

To come back to the show though, I must point out some amazing performances from Jay-Z and Alicia Keys performing “Empire State of Mind”, and a very nice comeback performance from Rihanna also. Even if the setup for his part was the least impressive, it was still great to see Eminem spit fiery verses off “Crack a Bottle” and “Forever”. Last but not least, something that is going to make the front page on every tabloid tomorrow is Adam Lambert’s performance, that involved him kissing another guy and having a guy simulate a BJ on him.

Here are a few videos from the AMA:


Rihanna


Adam Lambert


Jay-Z and Alicia Keys


Eminem and 50 Cent