Hear Me Out
September 7, 2009
Sliimy, ‘Paint Your Face’
Even if this French fruitcake exercised more skill than his wacky-bad debut would lead you to believe he had, Sliimy’s doomed from the get-go with his record label ties to Perez Hilton, the attention-baiting blogger many love to hate. But a 15-track LP of kid-show sounds and ridiculous schoolboy-scribed lyrics definitely won’t help the cause, as he attempts to sway the fickle ears of Americans. His grating voice is the prime problem – let’s just say he speak-sings in English, but sometimes you wouldn’t know it. And its dirty contradictions – meshing playground jump-rope beats with f-bombs – are creepy in the way Barney’s overly-friendly antics made me want to put more clothes on. As the impossible love child of ’60s ukulele-toting musician Tiny Tim and Napoleon Dynamite, he’s got the childlike giddiness down on songs like “Wake Up” – a Chicken Dance-sounding song on speed – and “Trust Me,” with a chi-chi-chi-ah-ah chorus that finagles a silly catchiness so much of the rest is deprived of. Like “Everytime,” which could only be worse if it featured a cameo from Big Bird. Or Perez, who just gave haters another reason to spite him: His crappy taste in music. (Out Sept. 15)
Queen Latifah, ‘Persona’
Five Queens grace the cover of the rapper-turned-actress’ hip-hop comeback album, her seventh since her heralded late-’80s debut, “All Hail the Queen.” The rocker-chick one to the far right is a little lesbian looking, but outside that, don’t look for hints answering the is-she-gay question Latifah’s been faithfully dodging. For her urban return, Latifah’s elected a bunch of big names – including Mary J. Blige on the ’90s-sounding “People” – to spark pizzazz on what turns out to be a musical melting-pot that’s as all-over as Latifah’s career ventures. Missy Elliott turns the best cameo with her biting rap on retro-soul flavored “Fast Car,” and then after revved rock-shaker “Cue the Rain” – easiest the album’s catchiest cut – its a mudslide of generic beats and lazy lyrics. Sad, especially since the Queen once helped crusade an alt-hip-hop movement with her bad-ass spitting and edginess. “Take Me Away” takes us away for too long, crawling into erotic-dance dreck, and much of the middle sags with filler. But after the insipid reggae-inspired “If You Wanna,” and before she wrongfully drops a couple octaves on the disc closer “The World,” she shines with survivor song “Over the Mountains.” It’s got a persona – finally.
Reba McEntire, ‘Keep on Lovin’ You’
The red-headed country queen’s 31st album is quintessentially Reba – the broken hearts, the woman-power parade and the heart-tugging tales. Her first LP on an indie label is a commercial juggernaut with lifeless love songs (“Over You”), the feisty radio-ready “Pink Guitar” and a gripping rape-and-retaliation parable, “Maggie Creek Road.” Luckily she still has that voice, because without it some of this so-so album would be hard to keep loving.
Cobra Starship, ‘Hot Mess’
Cock-teases like band frontman Gabe Saporta are superabundant, but they don’t all know how to make a seldom-serious CD – number three, by the way – of kitschy anthemic electro-emo like this N.Y. quintet. “Good Girls Go Bad,” featuring Gossip Girl’s Leighton Meester, is a hyper dance-pop potion cut with a sing-along cheer, and their perverted humor looms on hair-tossing rocker “Pete Wentz Is the Only Reason We’re Famous.” “Hot Mess,” yep … but the best kind.
Jordin Sparks, ‘Battlefield’
Love is a battlefield? What a revelation. The youngest-ever “Idol” might’ve ignored that memo on her uninventive-yet-ridiculously-catchy title track, and the bulk of her R&B-dance sophomore disc might be just as shopworn, but that voice! The drama! Those hooks! Sure, some songs, like “S.O.S. (Let the Music Play)” and “Emergency (911),” are in need of rescuing, but ballads like “No Parade” and “Faith” evoke our inner crybaby.