This review comes from an internet game. You buy an album you've never heard of from a shop. Then you write your impression of it before and after listening to it for the first time.
---BEFORE LISTENING TO IT---
WHY DID YOU SELECT THIS ONE? It was cheap and the artwork gives me a Sara Bareilles vibe.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE COVER? It's not very good. It's just an indifferent and uncreative headshot photograph of the singer with a meaningless painted backdrop and border. The only thing going for it is that it reminds me slightly of the cover of Little Voice by Sara Bareilles. This is good as I quite like that album. To be honest the front cover does nothing for me. My interest was piqued much more by the back cover. It's a full length photograph of her facing away from the camera as she looks out a giant window. Interesting hemline to her skirt. The grey socks with the high heels are an unusual combination.
WHAT TYPE OF MUSIC ARE YOU REALISTICALLY EXPECTING? Two thirds piano ballads and one third rocking pop songs. I expect she is a late teens to early twenties American singer-songwriter with a very strong plastic pop sensibility. I expect a fair amount of cheese. Also lots of awkward lyrics about falling in love for the first time. If she isn't a lover of every cliche in the lyrical songbook then I'll be surprised. I get the impression there will also be some country to the music (more Shania Twain than Johnny Cash). None of the song titles promise much. 'Unsung' is about as intriguing as it gets, followed by 'A Thousand Miles.' There is a song called 'Paint It Black,' which I assume is a Rolling Stones cover. I used to love inappropriate light and happy female singers covering darker rock songs. Then I grew out of being so easily impressed. Now I'm much more jaded for this type of thing to do much for me. Yet, despite this, and that I've already got a bunch of Stones songs covered by female singers in a bossa nova style, this still has me curious.
BEST CASE SCENARIO IT WILL SOUND LIKE? Sonically like Sara Bareilles and Delta Goodrem, but with something approaching the substance of Regina Spektor. Also she will favour up-tempo music to moping around at a crawling down-tempo pace.
WORST CASE SCENARIO IT WILL SOUND LIKE? Really bad, cheesy American country music with lyrics that are so obvious and on the nose you just feel embarrassed to be listening to it.
HIGH, LOW OR MIDDLING EXPECTATIONS? Fairly high. I don't see my predictions being drastically wrong.
ANY OTHER COMMENTS? I find with these type of performers that there is usually four to five excellent songs and the rest is bland, inoffensive filler. That hit rate is good enough for me as long as I'm not paying full price. Hopefully she'll have an EPs worth of really good material and she plays the piano as her main instrument. I have nothing against the guitar. I just feel I would prefer a Delta Goodrem style of music to Taylor Swift (she plays guitar, right?).
---AFTER LISTENING TO IT---
WHAT DID IT SOUND LIKE? As expected it was a girl and a piano. There seemed to be quite a bit of orchestration on it. I didn't detect any country twang.
DID YOU LIKE IT? It was average. I'm hard pushed to work out how she got a major label record contract as there is nothing of any real note here. Her voice is not distinctive or breathtakingly beautiful. Her songs are average (she is the only credited writer on all the songs, apart from the Stones cover). She is definitely not one of the great eccentrics of our time. There is nothing about her music that makes her stand out and demand attention. It's pleasant enough and inoffensive. The quality is consistent. I expected higher highs, but at least the lows are fairly close to the middle instead of down a deep valley. The lyrics are very average. She is breaking no new ground with her words. She flirts with standard clichés but doesn't go straight for them to the extent I suspected she would. Only the album title and the lyrics of 'A Thousand Miles' make me cringe at the awkward attempts at poetry.
DID IT SATISFY, SURPASS OR FAIL YOUR EXPECTATIONS? It met them as it matched most of what I predicted.
WHAT ARE THE BEST SONGS? 'Unsung,' 'Sway,' 'Paint It Black' and the original and remixed version of 'Wanted.'
WHAT ARE THE WEAKEST SONGS? 'Pretty Baby' and 'Twilight.'
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND IT TO OTHERS? Only if you're looking for this very specific type of lightweight girl with a piano music, and you don't care about receiving a consistently good album.
PLEASE DESCRIBE AND SUM IT UP IN ONE SENTENCE. Bland singer-songwriter with an average voice plays generic love songs on the piano.
ANY OTHER COMMENTS?
I gave the songs a score as I was listening to it.
"Ordinary Day" - 3:58 (6 out of 10 stars)
"Unsung" - 4:20 (7 out of 10 stars)
"A Thousand Miles" - 3:57 (5 out of 10 stars)
The repeated lyric of 'Fall into the sky' is just bad poetry.
"Pretty Baby" - 3:55 (4 out of 10 stars)
"Rinse" - 4:31 (5 out of 10 stars)
"Sway" - 3:57 (7 out of 10 stars)
Has a bit of drama to it.
"Paradise" - 4:50 (5 out of 10 stars)
"Prince" - 4:09 (6 out of 10 stars)
"Paint It Black" (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards) - 3:30 (7 out of 10 stars)
A good cover. It's a straight version as they didn't play around with it or use different instruments. They used a sitar.
"Wanted" - 3:55 (6 out of 10 stars)
"Twilight" - 4:49 (4 out of 10 stars)
"Wanted (Ripe Mix)" - 3:55 UK/Japan Bonus Track (7 out of 10 stars)
Overall 5 out of 10 stars for the album.
In time I'll probably cull it down to leave only five or six songs on my iPod.
---A MONTH OR TWO LATER---
HOW MANY TIMES DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE PLAYED IT? Maybe two or three times as an album and a lot on shuffle with other music.
HAS THE ALBUM IMPROVED OR WORSENED WITH TIME? It's stayed more the less the same, except that I've decided I like the album enough that I'm not going to delete any of the tracks from my iPod.
ANY PREVIOUSLY UNNOTICED SONGS NOW A NEW FAVOURITE? No.
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