Thursday, December 31, 2009

Adam Lambert "For Your Entertainment" Review

The words "highly anticipated" do not even come close to describing American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert's debut album For Your Entertainment. I can't even remember the last time I've been so excited about the release of a CD.

Let's face it. I'm an American Idol watcher. Ok, I'm am American Idol fanatic. All of my friends can now point and laugh at the "rocker chick" in her metal boots who listens to Judas Priest on a daily basis.

With that admission out of the way, I can now honestly say that in all my years of watching American Idol (Season 3 onward), I have never seen such an intriguing musical artist. I can't even bring myself to call Adam Lambert a "contestant." I refuse to trivialize him like that.

Any of Lambert's fans who watched his American Idol performances knows exactly which songs he sang, how he blew everybody away, and that he performed with KISS. I don't feel the need to explain that any further, and I don't want to continue to run Adam into the ground as the "American Idol Guy." Therefore, I will try my hardest to omit any mentions of the hit show.

As excited as I was about Adam Lambert's debut album, I honestly didn't know what to expect from it. When fans last saw Adam, he was a diverse performer with a glam-rock edge. So, that's all I had to base my hopes on.

After an entire summer of not hearing any new music from Lambert, the single "Time For Miracles" was released and featured in the film 2012. This song is a climactic ballad. It's good, but it doesn't become great until the last half when Lambert's signature energy and attitude really shine through. It almost reminds me of Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" from Armageddon.

After some marginal success with a ballad, the album's title-track, "For Your Entertainment" was unleashed upon the fans. I was not at all amused by this song the first five or so times I heard it. I felt misled as a rock music fan, and I was getting ready to run outside and yell, "Bait and switch! Bait and switch!" I pretty much tried to force myself to like it. It opens with the line "So hot out the box" for God sakes! It wasn't until the infamous American Music Awards incident that I fell completely in love with this song.

I originally wrote "For Your Entertainment" off as horribly over-produced dance/pop song. After seeing the "incident" (I watched it recorded. Ironically, I was at a Megadeth show when it aired), I really listened to the song's lyrics. It's unbelievably sexy and edgy. It may be the most danceable song you'll ever hear, but it's got a total rock attitude. Watch the music video for it. Adam's cane-wielding skills are quite reminiscent of Alice Cooper!

However, the good Adam giveth and the good Adam taketh away. There hasn't been much performing of "For Your Entertainment" on TV since the AMA "incident."

Since then, audiences have been treated to a more laid-back Adam Lambert in the form of "Whataya Want From Me." This song has been performed on many television and music and talk shows. It is a slow, introspective song that still unpacks a lot of Adam punch.

Aside from the better known singles from For Your Entertainment, the album has several high points. I really hope these songs gain some attention and radio play.

"Music Again" is fantastic. It was co-written by Justin Hawkins, formerly of the British glam band The Darkness. It has a strong rock vibe, and the backing vocal parts strongly remind me of Def Leppard. I can tell Hawkins tried to incorporate a lot of his old band, The Darkness, into this song.

I always smile when Adam sings the lines "mind, soul, et cetera" and "raison d'etre." It reminds me of Hawkins singing "extra curricular activities" in the Darkness song "Friday Night." He just always has to incorporate big or strangely rhyming words into his writing. I also like it when "better-uh" is used. It makes me think of the phrase "magical mysteria" in the Def Leppard song "Hysteria."

"Strut" is another completely stand-out track from For Your Entertainment. This song is filled with attitude, and it's almost anthemic. It really makes me want to stand up and shout to the world who I am. It definitely fulfills its purpose. Kudos for Kara DioGuardi for getting this one right!

"Sure Fire Winners" may be my absolute favorite from the album, and I bet it is the track most appealing to all of the rockers out there. I just can't help but melt when Adam sings the lyric, "all the girls in the clubs wanna know/where did all their pretty boys go?" I don't think I need to explain the meaning behind that one. This song definitely has "rock anthem" written all over it!

"Soaked" has Freddie Mercury written all over it. The huge and powerful beginning reminds me of Trans-Siberian Orchestra, however. The piano parts and vocals are plain beautiful. But at times, this song gets a little too "crooner" style for me though.

The last of my top favorites is "Fever." It's got a dance beat and one catchy chorus. The ending of this song is priceless, and I still can't believe someone could have such a vocal range. (Pure opinion: He's wasting it by not being in a hard rock or metal band.)

There are a couple of songs on this album, "Sleepwalker," "A Loaded Smile," and "Broken Open" that are great, and they show a completely different side of Adam. They are surely not bombastic or energetic like my usual fare. They are almost ethereal, and I just have to be in the mood for them.

"Aftermath" isn't bad. I just think it doesn't fit in. It sounds a bit like Chris Daughtry at the beginning. It's a straight-up pop/rock tune that gets kind of lost among all of the other tracks.

"If I Had You" would be one of my favorites if it wasn't for that spastic techno chorus. I love the verses, especially the opening lines "So I got my boots on/got the right 'mount of leather/and I'm doin' me up with a black-color liner." The part about the rockstar hotel trashing is good too, but I just thing the chorus kills this otherwise good song. The end is also kind of cool too, as it reminds me of a Katy Perry song.

Lastly, there is only one song on this album that I almost always skip over--"Pick U Up." If I heard this one on the radio, I probably wouldn't even know it was Adam Lambert singing it. I can't even believe he's listed in the writing credits. This sounds like something by the All-American Rejects. When I hear this song, I picture their whiny lead singer--that guy who always has the blank stare and looks like he's about to cry. I really don't get this song at all.

Overall, Adam Lambert's For Your Entertainment is an album that I would recommend buying. There is something on it for every taste. I may not love every single track on the CD, but this crazy rocker chick gives Adam Lambert an "A" for his vocal performance efforts and musical eclecticism.

*Check back later for a bonus review of the special edition album's bonus tracks!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Kiss "Sonic Boom" Review

The long-awaited Kiss album Sonic Boom arrived exclusively on Wal-Mart shelves on October 6th. Now that I've had more than enough time to buy it and give it a few listens, I believe I can give it an honest review as a life-long Kiss fan and wannabe music critic.

With that said, I do think Sonic Boom is great. I can't rave about it too much, because I know, and I think we all know, that it is not going down in history with albums such as Love Gun and Destroyer. As I've mentioned before, I born during Kiss's non-makeup era. I was raised on "Lick it Up," "Let's Put the X in Sex" and "Hide Your Heart." I would probably even take the Fox over the Catman. Easy Catman, I AM SERIOUS!

I might be used to having some kind of lowered expectations when it comes to new Kiss albums because of the last two--Carnival of Souls and Psycho Circus. While they still have their merits because they're Kiss albums, I really don't think they are anyone's favorite. I was ready to be disappointed, or at least unimpressed, by Sonic Boom, the band's first studio album in more than a decade. While it is still not a history-making, legendary, iconic rock album, it is a very good album with some stand-out tracks.

"Modern Day Delilah" is Sonic Boom's lead track and lead single. I've heard it on SiriusXM's Boneyard channel several times, so I know it's not going completely unnoticed. I can honestly say that I don't even know if it is playing on my local "classic rock" radio station. They're so busy playing Lynyrd Skynyrd and Bob Seger, so who I'm not even sure they know who Kiss is.

Musically, "Modern Day Delilah" is pretty hard rocking, as most of the album is. The Paul Stanley-led vocals are good too. I don't find the lyrics to be incredibly cheesy, but I could see how some listeners might.

The next track, "Russian Roulette," is what I like to call your "typical Gene Simmons sleaze-fest." I love Gene. I'm probably one of the few women on Earth who can stand massive amounts of Gene. In all seriousness, if any other man sang some of those lines Gene (or any other member of Kiss, for that matter) sings, they'd probably get slapped. Not Gene Simmons though! This song does rock pretty hard, especially in the intro. SiriusXM's Boneyard has played this one a few times, but I don't know if or when it will be released as a single. It has potential and could really catch on.

Unlike the first two songs on Sonic Boom, the next three tracks are mediocre at best. "Never Enough" would be great--if it were a Poison song. Listen closely. Now tell me exactly what it sounds like. I'm not going to say it, but I know that you know.

"Yes I Know (Nobody's Perfect)" is another Gene number. It's not as good as "Russian Roulette," but it sure has all the "sleaze fest," including the glorious line "take off your clothes." I'm almost positive this song sounds like something else by Kiss, but I still can't quite figure it out.

"Stand" is also in this set of four songs that just don't live up to my "this is just a great rock song" standards. It starts out great. The first time or two I listened to it, I was thinking, "Great, Great, GREAT.... crap!" This one will fool you. The beginning verse builds up, and builds up, and then right when it gets to the chorus, disappointment. The lyrics attempt to be inspirational, but they begin to borderline cheesy. The songs on Sonic Boom have mastered the art of the almighty hard rocking intro. "Stand," however, is only good because of that intro.

"Hot and Cold," is the final of the fair-to-middling portion of the album. It's is another Gene song that doesn't live up to the greatness of "Russian Roulette." I don't know why, but I can't really get into this song, or even say too much about it. The chorus and rhythm are catchy though. The lyrics aren't the greatest though.

Other than the nice lead-in from the first two tracks, the best songs from Sonic Boom are buried at the end. I absolutely love "All for the Glory." When I first saw the title, I was expecting something lame. I was wrong! Eric Singer is a killer vocalist. I enjoy the edge and raspier tone of his voice compared to the other guys. The driving beat of the song, along with the guitar solo make "All for the Glory" an overall great rock song.

My absolute favorite song on Sonic Boom is "Danger Us." It is definitely the Starchild at his finest! Not only is the lyric "Danger you, danger me, danger us" clever and catchy, it brings me back to my beloved late 1980s Paul Stanley-led Kiss. Everything about this song is fantastic. I just hate waiting until the end of the CD to hear it!

"I'm An Animal" is not my favorite, but it's not bad. It sounds a lot heavier and rougher than the rest of album. There are many different sounding songs on it, so it's not like it doesn't fit or anything. It just really reminds me of "Unholy" or something else from Revenge.

Another song that sounds incredibly different is "When Lightning Strikes." It features vocals from our 21st Century Spaceman, Tommy Thayer. I think it is the least "Kiss-like" song on the whole album, but I truly enjoy it. It actually reminds me of many newer Def Leppard songs.

Wrapping up the album is the song "Say Yeah." Again, it has a great intro. I think it sounds very new and current--in a good way. It's probably my third favorite song on the CD. Paul Stanley sings lead vocals on the track, and the echo-effect in the beginning adds a certain mood and feeling to it. It's kind of intense, really.

Sonic Boom is a must have for any die-hard Kiss fan who would have bought it no matter what. Casual Kiss fans who have a couple of albums already would probably enjoy it too. It has several great tracks on it that would appeal to fans of each of the band's eras. Even though I doubt any of the tracks will reach the status of "Rock and Roll All Nite" or "Deuce," Sonic Boom is not one of those albums with one or two good songs and a bunch of filler that listeners want to skip.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


I finally did it... I bought a real live domain name. Ten bucks a year is a steal, AND I got my first choice. I'm just glad I didn't end up with a lame-ass .net or .biz address. Not cool at all. Hopefully, this REAL domain name *cough* *cough* will earn some recognition. And MAYBE this whole doing what I love thing will generate some cash. Getting my ten bucks back would be niiiice.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ah ah ah ah... Hey hey hey... Do do do do do do do do do

Enjoy this KISS gem from the late 1980s. Non-makeup KISS is actually one of my first childhood memories, and it took me a couple of years to grasp the fact that KISS really wore make up. If you've seen the video as many times as I have, you'll always envision Paul Stanley's sexy dance moves when you listen to the song without the video. It still haunts me, but I love every second of it! (And the PSA at the beginning...)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

New Blog, New Layout

I have decided to change my blog from a general interest "what did Brittany do today?" type of thing to a real blog about a real topic... ROCK. If I want to gain that "rock expert" title that Eddie Trunk gets on VH1, I have to start somewhere. Soon you will be bombarded by my humorous rock commentary. Have fun!