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Hernan Igot (Maryland, USA)

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Overloaded: The Singles Collection
Overloaded: The Singles Collection
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £5.45

28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
In the wake of All Saints' return and Girls Aloud's continued progression as a credible girl group (believe it or not), it seems too "Easy" for Sugababes to seem lost in the mix. Fear not, because this compilation should silence the coldest of musical critics. Sure, Sugababes may seem less bombastic and more laid back...In fact, too laid back, in comparison to the huge personalities displayed in the other leading UK girl groups at the moment (the aformentioned). Well, referencing past Sugababes track "Whatever Makes You Happy," "it's all about the music, not the face." Sure, Sugababes are more savvy on looks than ever these days, but not without being complimented by music that's just as confident, sexy, sassy, and effortless. Sugababes may have been All Saints' successors in cool, edgy pop, but they've crafted a sound all their own in this extremely consistent collection of hits.

A few music critics have said that Sugababes have pretty much upped the game and changed the face of British pop music since their arrival. There would be a unanimous "yes, of course..." to that comment, as nonchalantly-phrased as any oh-so-cool Sugababes single included in this collection. Oh no, "Angels With Dirty Faces" wasn't their first introduction as the alternative to stupid, safe, bubblegum pop. They've had that special "something" since their debut album, "One Touch," a project they made when they were just 15 or 16 (as evidenced by the inclusion of "Overload" and "Run For Cover," two prime singles that showcased how far ahead of the pop game they were at the time - they still are, in fact, on top of their game today). Hate as they may, but Suga-bashers even have to respect how much they've contributed to UK pop: they made it okay for aspiring acts to sound edgy and most importantly, be themselves in the process.

Too much can be said about how great and filler-free this compilation is. In the meantime, let's revisit the magic of their singles, track-by-track:

1. "Freak Like Me" - This monumental single did three big things: it introduced Richard X, a great maverick pop producer that has gone to make better, edgier pop for acts such as Liberty X and Rachel Stevens; it reintroduced the public to Sugababes as UK pop superstars; and it popularized the notion of the potential for pop to be as edgy as it is catchy. The track will forever remain a landmark Sugababes accomplishment, not only because it was their first #1 single in the UK charts, but it crucially put them back in the map during a time when pop needed to be exciting again.

2. "Round Round" - Continuining the pushing of the envelopes of pop, Sugababes released "Round Round," no doubt their best dance-inflected single. Think of a dance track on acid played in a dark, grungy club, while still being damn infectious. It still is. Sugababes have arrived at this point (it shows: this was their 2nd #1 single, and a consecutive #1 hit too, after "Freak Like Me").

3. "Red Dress" - Seems oddly weak following its sonic mother, "Round Round," but still proves how Sugababes can still make fresh-sounding, edgy dance-pop even today. The track also introduces the much-needed husky, sultry vocals of newest member Amelle. It's rocky, it's cocky, but it's still oh-so-cool Sugababes.

4. "In The Middle" - Probably their weakest uptempo single, it settles fine within a collection of solid pop gems. Sounds more Girls Aloud-ish, but Sugababes inject it with their sassy, effortlessness, and attitude to make this electro-dance track theirs.

5. "Stronger" - This track showed to the mass media that Sugababes are just as versatile as they are devastatingly effective in their approach to pop. Taking away the cheesy from the ballad format and making it dark, this great track became a model for Sugababes' trademark ballads: brooding and moody. One of their best recordings yet!

6. "Shape" - One of their weaker ballads, but still a strong single in this collection. It's slick, cool, and sort-of R&B-sounding. It's very calming also. Still a good track though!

7. "Overload" - Their very first single and what a damn first single it is! Besides the fact that they manage to make it sound so damn cool and good despite all the stuff going on in the track, it's hard to fathom the fact that they actually wrote this when they were teenagers (15 and 16 years old!). A classic post-millennial pop masterpiece: God bless the Sugababes!

8. "Good To Be Gone" - A welcome addition to the Sugababes' discography and their 2nd single for this collection, this continues to push their sound towards cool, understated pop. It sounds like Goldfrapp mixed with more alternative/indie elements. As addictive as current single "Easy," but with more nonchalant, icy vocals that can be done by only one other pop act: All Saints (that's saying a lot).

9. "Caught In A Moment" - A very good, trip-hop-ish-sounding ballad about love. It might seem sappy, but it definitely hits the mark: moodiness from the girls, great strings, heavy beats. It's silky smooth, yet it's edgy as a pop ballad. I can't stop associating Sugababes' pop with "edgy" and "credible."

10. "Ugly" - A lighter single with a positive message: a slight change for Sugababes. This shows that they care, sort of. It's still bitchy in its "I-don't-give-a-damn"-isms. More pop/rock affair, but still very catchy.

11. "Easy" - Current single and although not as immediate (especially with the slow-burning, yet funky verses), it's all worth it when the massive bridge/chorus combo makes the song erupt to sonic pop bliss. Sounds like Girls Aloud, but Girls Aloud can never sound this damn cool.

12. "Too Lost In You" - Sappy ballads are faw and few with the Sugas, but when it's time to step up to the plate, they do it well. This track shows how they can make even the most romantic-sounding pop track sound urgent as well as moody. So damn eargasmic!

13. "Run For Cover" - As "Overload" introduced the 'Babes as moody teenagers that were just too damn cool and "don't-give-a-****" for their own good, this brought audiences deeper to their dark world. As pleasing as a walk through the dimly-lit London streets in its uneasy, yet grungy atmosphere, this track encompases just what that feeling of being in the dead of the night is like: a cool, dark wonderland put in an untouchable pop single.

14. "Hole In The Head" - Like a diet version of "Round Round" sprinkled with a bit more acoustic and ska elements, this still remains one of their strongest dance-pop tracks. It's also a great, bitchy "**** U" track as well. Remember, this was a #1 single too: it was the only single ballsy enough to knock off The Black-Eyed Peas and their ubiquitous single, "Where Is The Love?," from their 6-week reign at the top of the singles chart.

15. "Push The Button" - Their biggest single to date (#1 for 3 consecutive weeks!): save the best for last. So uncharacteristically them because of its super happy hardcore backing track, but they're as sassy as ever with this one. Girls Aloud may be doing the whole "stupid-and-random-is-the-new-genius" thing, but Sugababes prove that they can hold their own on a more upbeat track without compromising their integrity and intelligence as sassy, young UK women with this one.

So the verdict? Too damn good for words. Just listen to this. All killer, no filler. If you don't get this, you don't like pop. There may be a surplus of girl groups in the UK right now, but they're all solid, and Sugababes will continue to hold their own as a unique act that is consistent with their solid pop releases. Sugababes shouldn't even be associated as girl group: they should just be a term for any music that's quality and solid. As a reviewer once said, "There isn't anything that Sugababes can't make sexy." I can't put it any better...

Taller in More Ways
Taller in More Ways
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Price: £2.73

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sugababes Are Here To Stay, 5 April 2006
This review is from: Taller in More Ways (Audio CD)
Even a change in line-up as big as their most recent one won't stop the determination of UK's most credible girl group. Founding member Mutya's decision to leave the band may have been a blow to many fans, but newbie Amelle is definitely a welcome addition, sometimes showing even huskier vocals than her. Though this is not, by any means, the most efficient re-release (with new vocals on only 3 tracks and 1 brand new track), it doesn't change the fact that fans would still be getting a pretty solid modern pop album. Even with a few alterations, "Taller In More Ways" still remains one of Sugababes' most consistent releases (and that's saying a lot). Here's a track-by-track review of what fans will get with the new album:
1. "Push The Button" - Months after its assault on charts worldwide, the 'Babes most successful single to date is still extremely light, bubbly, and catchy. Good electro-pop doesn't need to be cold and soulless, as shown by this light number.
2. "Gotta Be You" - Amelle's rough vocals are best suited with rougher tracks like this one. Where Mutya's turn on the original version sounded only half convincing, Amelle's raw voice adds that much-needed oomph and power, making the track even more suiting of the band.
3. "Follow Me Home" - Though Amelle's vocals compliment more uptempo materials, she still manages to shine on this track, turning up the sultriness in her voice. She may not have the same range as Mutya, but she's at least got some heart and soul.
4. "Joy Division" - Same ol' reliable futuristic cyber-ragga/pop track. Shows how Sugababes are still capable of combining great pop melodies with slick, urban-inspired beats 4 albums in.
5. "Red Dress" - Latest single and what a stomper of a tune. Amelle's vocals add even more power and body to the choruses, making the song even more addictive than it already is. Only Sugababes can do rockin' dance/pop track like this.
6. "Ugly" - A surprisingly sincere, good-natured song from Sugababes, yet it isn't totally saccharine: the drum-looped beats in the background save it from becoming too nice and pleasant. It add's contemporary savy and rhythm to the song. Some sassy lines might have helped it from becoming too saintly as well.
7. "It Ain't Easy" - What distinguishes Sugababes from any other girl band at the moment is their ability to make a completely tuneless track like this sound very sexy and slick. Other girl groups struggle to even carry an easy tune, let alone any abstract pop compositions.
8. "Bruised" - Very undermined, yet cool vocal performance from the 'Babes. This track is all about the sly vocals, especially with the harmony in the chorus that can raise chills up someone's spine.
9. "Obsession" - Crass, bombastic, yet still sexy pop track that's somewhat dark and very inviting at the same time. Like "Push The Button," it's production isn't as elaborate as many labored-over pop songs today, yet it's still very durable and catchy.
10. "Ace Reject" - Such an emotional roller coaster and a lovely melody. Mutya's departure only makes listening to this track more of an emotional reminder of the good days of Sugababes V2.
11. "Better" - Bright and uplifting track that might seem too bright and uplifting for Sugababes, but at least it shows how they do have some good intentions in life too.
12. "2 Hearts" - Amazing end to an amazing album. The crashing drums, orchestration, and effortless vocals create a crescendo that's unlike any other in pop music today. Not many pop albums can match an ending to an album like this, or at least it was the original ending in the original release of "Taller In More Ways."
13. "Now You're Gone" - Probably an ode to Mutya (very suggestive with the lyrics), it's not the best Sugababes track, but it's far from being the worst. It's a likeable, if not melancholy and serious-sounding, R&B-lite pop track with some orchestration in the background to make it sound more dramatic. It shows how Sugababes are still capable of writing a solid track even with the lineup changes.
"Taller In More Ways" proves that Sugababes still have what it takes to remain one of the most respected pop acts in Britain today. They definitely earn their cred by consistently coming up with great pop tunes that will entertainin for generations to come. There's no doubt that this re-release of "Taller In More Ways" only shows a hint of what bigger things are set for our favorite trio of femme fatales.

Taller In More Ways [Special Edition]
Taller In More Ways [Special Edition]
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.57

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sugababes Keep Up Quality Control, 25 Oct 2005
Now I don't really feel like writing too much about Sugababes' awesome new album "Taller In More Ways," but I won't hesitate to express how pleased I am with it.
I guess at this point some people would suspect that Sugababes have "stagnated" by not upping the ante as much as their previous efforts. "Taller In More Ways" sees Sugababes getting comfortable with their own feel for good pop music, and it really shows because even though it may not reach the massive highs of their previous work, it definitely does not spread itself thin nor does it try to be too patchy (like many pop albums nowadays, mediocre and good).
The truth is, it's not that easy to always be groundbreaking in any genre, no matter how highly reputed you are (as Sugababes seem to be more respected a pop group rather than just flat-out panned or made fun of). "Taller In More Ways" will not gain too many new fans, but it'll please old ones because of its familiar, solid sound and Sugababes' prized work ethic with other great songwriters/producers (as well as lending their songwriting talents and knack for a good pop tune).
Though Sugababes definitely take from their previous work with this one and don't do as much full-out experimenting, there is one thing that's generally different about this album: less slow tracks and more into the dance-pop territory. In all respects, this is Sugababes' most poppy album, and even though this might be super poppy in their standards (especially next to past singles like "Run For Cover," "Freak Like Me," "Round Round," "Stronger," and "Too Lost In You"), it's still pretty edgy in normal pop standards. It's just a damn good pop record altogether.
The quality control this time around is really the strong-point because like some people said, a lot of the tracks here can be potential singles (even the more "mediocre" tracks have interesting enough production to make them anything but average pop tracks). "Push The Button," the lead single, might be strange and awkward for a Sugababes single, but it turns out to be a really addictive grower (as its reputation of being Sugababes' biggest single all over Europe so far indicates). "Follow Me Home" can be almost on par with other great Sugababes trademark ballads like "Stronger," "Too Lost In You," and "Caught In A Moment" with its trip-hop like production with more of an old-skool R&B beat as well. "Red Dress" sounds like "Round Round" and "Hole In The Head" as well as some other Xenomania productions like those of Girls Aloud, but strangely it still seems really fresh, exciting, and extremely addictive. "Ugly" is not as much a continuation from TLC's "Unpretty" as it is just a catchy uplifting, surprisingly more upbeat pop anthem on its own with a sassy smirk from the 'Babes ("if I'm ugly then so are you"), showing that the 'Babes haven't actually sold their souls to the good, lighter tendencies of pop. "It Ain't Easy" almost has no trace of melody, yet it becomes of the most addictive racks in the album because of its repetitiveness and the almost vocal-exercise-like chant the girls do. Pretty funky, beat-driven, Goldfrapp-like production too. "Bruised" shows one of the most seductive, sexy vocals from the 'Babes ever (the chorus is killer, even though the song is not as explosive - it's all in sexy subtlety here). Contrastingly, "Obsession" is explosive and seductive, bombastic yet catchy (pretty catchy cover). "Ace Reject," one of the most melodic and melancholic tracks Sugababes have recorded ever, is faster-paced (this doesn't hurt the track though - it actually enhances it and saves it from just a super somber sulk-fest). It makes a sad track really catchy. "Two Hearts" shows one of the best Sugababes album closers since "Run For Cover," with a big finale incorporating funky drums with mega bass and some tricked out funky orchestrations. One of the biggest productions I've ever experienced in a Sugababes track, yet they didn't even have to scream or yell too much to match the music: their sexy subtlety just automatically makes them cool enough to close the album this way.
Even the thought-of lesser tracks like "Gotta Be You," "Joy Division," and "Better" are damn good in pop standards. "Gotta Be You" is an addictive stab at crunk 'N' B, but with more seductive results because it mixes Sugababes' classy sexiness with a type of hip-hop sub-genre that's not really associated with class and grace, but with grittiness and a messy atmosphere. "Joy Division," probably the least distinct of the album tracks, is a chilled out meditation about infidelity with a mystical cyber-raga sound (like "No Many No Cry," but with more voodoo). "Better" sounds average compared to the other tracks, but it's a catchy Natalie Imbruglia-esque quirky pop/rock track with off-kilter vocal deliveries that would have made it otherwise a truly average pop track (which is something Sugababes don't deserve).
Sure, it may not be as exciting this time around now that we know Sugababes are associated with being good, but we all can accept the fact that Sugababes' goodness doesn't make them no less a pop act than any other comparable pop act in the UK (if there is competition of such caliber). Barely in their 20's...Not bad...And they say they're still not finished with making albums yet. A scary thought considering that UK's most credible pop act is still hungry from more (not to mention that they've never really made a truly dud record, so yikes to other pop acts that wanna give a stab at being at the status of pop credibility like the 'Babes). Damn...Told you I wouldn't write too much 'bout the 'Babes.

Fefe Dobson
Fefe Dobson
Offered by dodax-online-uk
Price: £10.12

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Fefe Dobson (Audio CD)
Fefe Dobson's eponymous debut album isn't really what it's hyped (or unhyped) up to be: it's definitely not another following-the-Avril-footsteps kind of album. What makes Fefe Dobson's first venture in the world of mainstream music engaging is the combination of original, edgy, and melodic pop/rock songs minus the Avril cheese. Also, Dobson's album somewhat seems more "real" and unforced/premedidated: because the lyrics and how the songs are produced seem to be more natural on Fefe, there are rarely any awkward moments here. The album's also great because when some things become too pretentious, they just barely cross the line, making its tracks seem more admirable than annoying. With her writers and producers, she's managed to come up with a fresh, yet still articulate album that's part reflective, part fun, and part entertaining. What gives Fefe distinction as an artist would not only be the obviously superficial (okay, so it's not everyday that you see a Jamaican/Irish-Canadian female artist sing pop/rock songs with some punk and spunk in it), but her overall sound also seems to be more chilled and more down-to-earth, which contributes to its likelier closeness to true "punkness" than Avril's record ever showed. For Avril: although "Let Go" is also an undoubtedly impressive debut, it has somewhat more glossiness and polished nautre in the production quality of her tracks. Dobson's songs, although layered with lush instrumentation, don't tend to rely on electronics and ProTools as much as they do a garage feel. That's what's great about the album too: the organic undertone behind the solidly mainstream pop/rock production! Not only that, but Dobson is indeed a younger artist than Avril, and with her cowriting all the songs with such maturity only seems to add to her credibility as an artist. Okay, take away the pretensions and her whole image, and you've got a pretty refreshing talent here. Sure, her almost juvenile diction and pronounciation on many of her songs are definitely a distinction in itself, but she's still a pretty relaxed and decent singer. It's unfortunate that (at least in America), her album didn't really fare that well saleswise upon its release week. With more exposure and promotion, Dobson truly deserves the credibility and praise. Her debut album only raises the bar for new artists trying to break into mainstream: debut albums don't have to be lacking in content and credibility; they can be edgy, vivacious, and a showcase of an artist's maximum potential.

Impossible Princess With Bonus Disc
Impossible Princess With Bonus Disc
Price: £6.87

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
After hearing some belated hype about the underrated 1998 Kylie album, "Impossible Princess," I took a chance and bought it as an import. Upon first listen, I was blown away by its power! This is the most interesting album I've come across in a while. One wouldn't even recognize that this was the same artist who was behind the infectious sugary "la, la, la's" of the insanely catchy dance-pop single "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" back in 2001. Believe the reviews and critical acclaim: "Impossible Princess" is everything people describe it as, and more! Maybe it's because the general mainstream public was not ready for quite a drastic change in artistic direction that "Impossible Princess" was overlooked. It's pretty unfortunate that "Impossible Princess" (then changed to "Kylie Minogue") bombed upon its release because here is a hidden gem that's filled with remnants of an extremely brave, adventurous, and experimental female pop artist. Sure, it can get self-indulgent and claustrophobic when it comes to taking in such complex music that's not associated with the pint-sized Aussie beauty, but you better believe that every single note and word in this album is packed with genuinely pure emotion. It's not that amazingly ground breaking and innovative, but "Impossible Princess" is complex, intricately structured, and atmospheric enough to give the artist immediate credibility. I find it strange that the same artist that wrote the dark lyrics for this album turned into a dance-pop diva upon abandoning it and its commercial failure. From the first track, "Too Far," you're in for a treat of sonic textures and you're immediately brought inside Kylie's otherwordly realm. "Too Far" is one of the standout tracks in the album, being part rapid drum 'N' bass and part orchestral dramatics. Kylie "raps" the verses with such emotional distress that one might even feel uncomfortable with the eerieness of the whole song's aggressive delivery. "Cowboy Style" combines world beats and influences with a uniquely complex trip-hop-influenced structure. It's a mellowed out, yet very beat-influenced and heavily orchestrated track. "Some Kind Of Bliss," the lead single off the album, shows Kylie tackling Britpop and alternative pop/rock with a little distancing in her part. Very unfamiliar territory, but still great track. "Did It Again" takes some elements from "Cowboy Style" and "Some Kind Of Bliss" because of its jangly pulsating beats combined with garage-rock acoustics. "Breathe," another of a handful of slow and sassy trip-hop grooves, is filled with atmospheric, yet electronic arrangements that compliment its almost medidative melody and Kylie's breathy vocals. "Say Hey" and "Drunk," the two most dance/club-oriented tracks on the album, glow in a building crescendo of intricate instrumentation, orchestration, and electronica beats: you get soaked in an ornate underground electro-realm. "I Don't Need Anyone" is probably the track that is closest to "Some Kind Of Bliss" because of the Britpop and alternative production. It's probably the most lively pop track in the album, but it's not quite pop because of the garage feel of it. "Jump," a slow medidative drum-induced track, shows how Kylie's weariness truly conveys her emotional hurt and dissatisfaction upon writing it. It's like being in a late-night beat-poetry/jazz club house with a dab of electro. "Limbo" proves that the near-end of the album can still pack one more action. It's a raging, destructive alternative-rock/dance hybrid that shows Kylie at her most aggressive and exasperated. She seems to be having fun making the track while still being enraged with fury and stress. Its hard-rocking pulsating beats can be a sort of release from the stresses around us. "Through The Years" is a jazzy, yet slow trip-hop beatfest. "Dreams" is a orchestrated with such large dramatics. I highly recommend this album is you want to explore a new side of Kylie! It's amazing!

Angels With Dirty Faces
Angels With Dirty Faces
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Price: £1.44

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grittier, Edgier, and Darker - Sugababes Have Hit Mainstream, 31 Dec 2003
This review is from: Angels With Dirty Faces (Audio CD)
"Angels With Dirty Faces" is the album that catapulted Sugababes to the mainstream and to the view of the pop public. Whereas "One Touch" was a subtle introduction to their capabilities as a girl group, "Angels With Dirty Faces" explodes with pop and street cred. In today's pop standards, it's extremely fresh, hip, and edgy with its dark, atmospheric R&B/hip-hop and electro-pop foundation. What makes this sophomore effort even more enganging than its predecessor is the accomplishment and the amount of ground covered with its tracks. "Freak Like Me," the lead single, is a devastatingly unconventional pop number: a sonic clash of hard-hitting electronic/robotic sounds with a heavy R&B track. It's easily one of the best covers mainstream music has heard in a long time! Dark, gothic, club-ready, yet still street, "Freak Like Me" is one of Sugababes' trademark singles. "Blue" is another feast of the ears with drum 'N' bass mixed with strummy acoustics and a hummable melody: all constitute to its extreme catchiness. "Round Round" maintains the amazing play of songs during the album's first half. It's heavy and dark. It's a bubblegum pop fan's worst nightmare! Classy, sophisticated, stylish, and effortless, this alternative-sounding dance track is also another trademark Sugababes single. "Stronger" is yet another amazing track. It's a slowed down, near-trip-hop groove that incorporates monumental strings with a powerful message of perseverance. One of the best Sugababes tracks ever! "Supernatural" might sound like Brandy's "What About Us?," but it's still a funky, electrofied R&B number nonetheless. "Angels With Dirty Faces" is a weird, schizophrenic electro-pop track that cements Sugababes' reputation as being the coolest girl group of the new millennium. "Virgn Sexy" is a hip, funky, sexified track that's bouncy without being perky. It's another showcase of Sugababes awesome effortless ice cool personas. "Shape" is a sincere R&B ballad that's complimented with a slow, yet thumping beat. It's not the best track, but it's better than the best racks of other pop group's albums. "Just Don't Need This" is dripping in slow trip-hop beats. It's heavily urban-sounding, yet largely atmospheric at the same time. The slow bass of the track is astounding. "No Man No Cry" is a Caribbean-flavored, dancehall-ish R&B track that's pretty cool. "Switch" is a heavy R&B track that's reminiscent of TLC. "More Than A Million Miles," one of the most experimental track in the album, probably references "One Touch" the most because it's pretty stripped down and raw, production-wise. The acoustics and the near drum 'N' bass beats go well with Sugababes' harmonies. "Breathe Easy (Acoustic Jam)" is also another very low-key track. It's actually nice to know that the girls can sing well, even acoustically (this lends them great advantage in performing live). "Round Round (Alternative Mix)," a UK bonus track and the album's closer, takes away a bit from the original, but it's still a nice extension to the dark dance-pop track. Overall, "Angels With Dirty Faces" showcases Sugababes talent and their great capabilities of making music with their songwriters and producers. Their untouchable reputation as a strong, solid girl group is secured with the album. With Sugababes and "Angels With Dirty Faces," UK's representatives are giving traditional (and boring) pop music a run for its money. Sugababes show that they are here to revolutionize the words "girl group."

Sound Of The Underground
Sound Of The Underground
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Price: £2.73

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Raises The Standards For Girl Groups, 30 Dec 2003
It's pretty ironic for a reality television-based girl group to become popular and still acquire critical acclaim as well on their debut album. If someone was questioned of such a scenario, the last thing he or she would reply would be that they would produce such a sleek, stylish, classy, and interesting debut album. Girls Aloud did just that by enlisting the right producers to helm their "sound" (which is usually glossy pop that references the '80s and early '90s while still retaining a sense of contemporary appeal). While on their way to becomming the coolest new girl group in the UK, what else would they do but hire the producers that made Sugababes' (that other popular UK girl group that made girl group pop cool, edgy, and hip during the new millennium) music effortlessly engaging. With that came the basis for "Sound Of The Underground." Even though both groups' styles are extremely different, Brian Higgins, Xenomania, and company still do the Popstars winners justice by making music that's nostalgic as it is fresh: the album is sets itself apart by having a cohesive, gritty, edgy, '80s/early '90s dance feel that doesn't get too annoying. Production is ace all throughout this album. This makes Girls Aloud's music stand apart from the rest: it's so fresh and unique. The special re-release of the album is great because the new bonus tracks: "Jump," "You Freak Me Out," and "Girls On Film" fit well with the original tracklist. The bonus videos are great too! Also, the "newly polished" production of some of the album's original tracks don't hurt on the ears either. In my opinion, the best tracks on the album are "Sound Of The Underground," "No Good Advice," "Life Got Cold," "Jump," "Some Kind Of Miracle," "All I Need (All I Don't)," "Mars Attacks," "You Freak Me Out," "Forever And A Night," "Love/Hate," and "Boogie Down Love." Even thought the album's songs may seem monotonous at first, the album works amazingly well together and it truly deserves the praise as being one of the best pop albums of 2003.

Ray of Light
Ray of Light
Price: £2.75

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Madonna's Best Work To Date!, 30 Dec 2003
This review is from: Ray of Light (Audio CD)
"Ray Of Light" must have been a revelation for many pop listeners that yearned for a pop sound that wasn't the norm during the time of its release (1998). With its subtle ambient electronica backdrop, the album quickly became praised Madonna's most accomplished and exceptional during the '90s (and possibly ever). In 2 days it will finally be 2004, and listening to the album now, I still think it's fresh and superb! "Ray Of Light" is sophisticated, classy, complex, and unique in Madonna's catalogue of albums because her artistic passion has never been as intense. Each and every track has been written and produced with such care and meticulousness that it's hard to find any filler in the album. Consistency is always a great thing when it comes to modern-day pop albums because it will make people appreciate the artist for achieving such a feat. With today's "singles-and-filler" pop albums, one shouldn't take an album so powerful and consistent as "Ray Of Light" for granted. "Ray Of Light" struck a chord with the world and quickly made it the peak of Madonna's experimental electronica days. Thanks to the album, William Orbit and his amazing productions have been introduced to the world and have given way to may incredible songs. My favorite tracks off the album are "Ray Of Light," "Candy Perfume Girl," "Skin," "Nothing Really Matters," "Sky Fits Heaven," "Frozen," "The Power Of Goodbye," and "Little Star." I highly recommend this album for the Madonna fan and for anyone who appreciates exceptional pop music.

Price: £3.45

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extended Hiatuses Result In Satisfying Rewards..., 24 Dec 2003
This review is from: Stripped (Audio CD)
With "Stripped," Christina Aguilera has created a media frenzy and has made people raving for more!!!...But I'm here to discuss the album (or more likely, praise it), so I shall do just that. The album certainly cements Christina's reputation as a credible artist, whether people like it or not. It may have not struck a chord with the most cynical of critics, but they can all shove it because they're all haters. Disregard all the scandal that's surrounded the whole album and you've got one massive piece of pop schizophrenia (and I love it!). Christina Aguilera shows her restlessness in approaching total diversity with her music, whether it's from the street-sounding "Can't Hold Us Down" to the surprisingly exciting drum-and-bass closer of "Keep On Singin' My Song," a large spectrum of pop music is definitely covered here. Just look at the singles she's released: "Dirrty," "Beautiful," "Fighter," "Can't Hold Us Down," and "The Voice Within." Now tell me which female pop vocalist in the 21st century has released a collection of singles that expansive and experimental? Not many. Christina Aguilera's ability to jump from hard, brash hip-hop to rock to power ballads with her amazing instrument (her voice) makes her extremely versatile and also more appealing. Her talent shines here. Screw the damn derogatory statements the critics are saying about panning her for her excess of vocal gymnastics: it all works well in the album because she's the only person in pop music right now that can execute that with such power and grace. Yeah, some of the tracks can be cut off from the album, but for the most part, each track's representation of another genre (or hybrid) of pop music makes this extremely wholesome and well-worth the buy. My favorites off the album are "Walk Away," "Fighter," "Infatuation," "Impossible," "Beautiful," "Make Over," "Cruz," "Soar," "The Voice Within," and "Keep On Singin' My Song." Sure, the album may be a bit long, but it's a package with a multitude of confections that's more worth the money that you probably bought (or more worth the time you probably downloaded) the album for, so more is better! "Stripped" is extremely "underappreciated" and unintended, but it's definitely a hidden treasure and one of the best of the year! Too bad the album itself was snubbed at the Grammy's this year. Oh well, get it anyway! It's amazing!!!

Offered by Giant Entertainment
Price: £1.50

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sugababes have delivered another amazing, consistent album!, 24 Dec 2003
This review is from: Three (Audio CD)
Sugababes have delivered yet another superb album with "Three." They still are extremely fresh, credible, and edgy in pop standards (and in comparison to their peers). With albums such as "Three," their reputation as being ahead of their peers is secured. I thought "Angels With Dirty Faces" was great, this album's even better! I mean it's just newer, fresher, and most every song is ear candy. Even though some critics said that this album is their "most accomplished, yet least exceptional," I oppose that because the 'Babes have many new paths with their music. All of the tracks showcase their great effortlessness in delivering quality pop songs (notice the beneficial lack of oversinging, like many pop singers attempt to do) while still maintaining that special dark "Sugababes sound" that make them a totally distinct girl group. The album's full of potential singles and radio-ready-without-being-cheesy-pop-fluff tracks, so that's great. My fave tracks on the album are "Caught In A Moment," "Situation's Heavy," "Conversation's Over," "Too Lost In You," and "Buster." Here's a track-by-track overview:
1. "Hole In The Head" - Great way to start off the album, even though it's not as instantly insanely catchy a leadoff single as "Overload" and "Freak Like Me." It's like a more funkified, dancier version of "Round Round." It's one of two straight-up dance tracks on the album (the other being "In The Middle"). (10/10)
2. "Whatever Makes You Happy" - This song seems really cool at first because of the weird Egyptian-sounding "aaahhh" voices on the background. Great solo track that presents Keisha's aggressive impression of a degraded popstar. It sounds very much like "Freak Like Me" (massive synths acting as bass on the background). I heard it might be the next single (along with "Caught In A Moment" as a double A-side). (10/10)
3. "Caught In A Moment" - I hope Sugababes end up releasing this track. They can't miss releasing this track! It's really chilled out...Probably the most chilled out track they did. It can be the "Stronger" of "Three," but it's most chilled and has more of a prominent trip-hop vibe to it (thanks to the strings). Amazingly well-produced and powerful track, yet still very effortless, as sung by the girls. (10/10)
4. "Situation's Heavy" - Sounds very much like Les Nubians' "Temperature Rising," but with heavier bass (the beats are identical). One of my faves. Playful, yet serious at the same time. Interesting new drum sounds are incoporated here (it must sound really great live). (10/10)
5. "Million Different Ways" - One of the most experimental tracks on the album because of the new Bhangra direction the girls decided to take. It's Bhangra with some pop mixed into it, so it's great! I love the sitar-ish sounds in the background during the beginning. (10/10)
6. "Twisted" - Probably the most playful-sounding track they have. It's also one of the simplest (with production and all). It's a grower, but it's all good in the end! Sounds like something done by The Neptunes and their stripped-down production, but it's not (done by Brian Higgins - the same man who brought "Hole In The Head" into being). (9/10)
7. "We Could Have It All" - This track sounds plain weird. It's got some weird alternative references, but it's also pop at the same time. It's not very melodic, but the drums and the electric guitar are great. Definitely a grower...But commendable for the efforts of experimentation. (9/10)
8. "Conversation's Over" - Probably one of my favorite tracks in the album...It's so powerful, yet still serene, classy, and graceful at the same time. It's a very empowering song and it makes you feel good. It sounds like a more trippy-sounding "Run For Cover." I like the percussion used. Definitely a standout! (10/10)
9. "In The Middle" - Sounds like something Shampoo or Girls Aloud did. Heh, it's still good though. It's got the Sugababes vibe to it, so it's all good. It's very clubby/dance-oriented without being too nauseatingly techno/trance-sounding (not that that kinda music's bad and all). I love the verses better than the choruses. They sound cool. (10/10)
10. "Too Lost In You" - Sigh, the current second single. Pitty it didn't notch up a higher spot in the UK singles chart (it deserved better than being #10). It's an amazing Dianne Warren track. It's probably one of the darkest tracks of hers that I've heard (most of her tracks are sappy ballads - this is no exception, but at least it's got darker elements to it that separate it from other tracks she's done). It sounds very Britney Spears-ish at first, but it becomes rockier and progressively more powerful (especially with the killer string portion). Powerful, great single! (10/10)
11. "Nasty Ghetto" - Heh, the drunken track. Linda Perry did a great job emulating Brian Higgins' sound. Very edgy, yet grungy/dance-pop hybrid. It's electro-clash and alternative/pop. It's just a nice, dark, club-sounding track. Thank god for alcohol...(10/10)
12. "Buster" - One of my fave tracks. Probably the most straight up R&B/hip-hop track on the album ("Three" and its more pop/electro-pop approach contrasts the pop/R&B/hip-hop of "Angels With Dirty Faces"). Loving the whole band thing (with the trumpets) in the background. The beat is thumpin' and great.(10/10)
13. "Sometimes" - The only other slow song aside from "Caught In A Moment." They really know how to pick their ballads, don't they? This is not a standout track, but it's still very chilled and R&B-ish (it sounds like an Alicia Keys track with more dramatics). Not my fave, but still awesome track. Heidi's ovely are showcased here. (10/10)
14. "Maya" - This track is probably the most experimental and atmospheric track Sugababes have ever done. It sounds like something Björk might like (like a poppier version of her at her most chilled - oxymoronic, ain't it?). It's a eulogy for Mutya's deceased sister; it's very sentimental. Very atmospheric, yet not too melodic...It's still a subtly powerful way to end the album. (10/10)

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