In the Cookie Jar
From the first strains of the lead single (and album title) Ariana Grande is here to prove to both her fans and the music world that she is now, a Dangerous Woman. While some still see this former Disney star as a child star, on this album, Ms. Grande is all grown up. The 80s style strains of Dangerous Woman stakes her claim for potential future pop queen, while the remainder of the album follows along the same theme; Ms. Grande has certainly grown up. Like Britney and Christina before her, Grande has chosen tracks (and album artwork) that demonstrate her journey into adulthood.
Tracks like the reggae styled “Side To Side” and “Let Me Love You” feature R&B artists Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne respectively, giving Grande a sense of street cred. “Bad Decisions” is the kind of party pop track her fans have come to love from her, while tracks like “I Don’t Care” and “Sometimes” give a sultry air to Grande’s already proven vocal abilities. One of the standouts on the album is “Leave Me Lonely,” including 50s style track, with heavy piano and guest vocals from Macy Gray, who adds a touch of old school vocals to any track she guests on. Dangerous Woman is a natural progression for an artist that shows with this package that she has much more yet to come.
With a voice that spans decades and generations, it’s a wonder that it has taken this long for Cyndi Lauper to put together a full package of country inspired track’s, but that is exactly what she’s done with her latest outing Detour. The re-imagining of classics from the 1940s through the 1960s is a departure from Lauper’s standard wheelhouse as the definitive queen of 80s pop, but it seems to fit her quite nicely. Tracks like the breezy “Walkin’ After Midnight” and the stellar “Misty Blue” keep the arrangement simple, putting Lauper’s vocal prowess front and center. Lauper is more than capable of carrying this material on her own, but when Cyndi Lauper does a country inspired album, some of country music’s best are going to line up to collaborate with her on it.
Emmylou Harris joins Lauper for some magnificent melody on Detour while Vince Gill partners up on the tongue in cheek “You’re The Reason Our Kids Are Ugly.” If there has to be a standout duet on the album, it would be Lauper’s duet with the iconic Willie Nelson; keeping the arrangement very simple and minimal, this blues track gets the perfect pairing, melding Nelson’s splendid and simple vocals with Lauper’s magnificently powerful ones. Regardless, if you are new to the Cyndi Lauper catalog or a fan since day one, this Detour is one you will happily take.
Dirty Pop ft. DaniElle DeLaite
Continuing their evolution of becoming one of the leading producing/remixing teams around, Dirty Pop (the superpower collaboration between Drew G and Brian Cua) has dropped their track Light Up The Night: with DaniElle DeLaite. Now that they are producing their own music, the Dirty Pop boys have made it their mission to discover some spectacular talent, with Ms. DeLaite being no exception. Her vocals are made for the dance floor, and this package of mixes pushes that talent to the forefront. Her verses build to a stomping, dance ready chorus on the “Dirty Pop Club Remix Part 1” while the “Jesus Montanez Remix” gives the track a bit of a late 90s flavor, keeping the heart of the original track, but throwing in some heavier bass giving the track a perfect peak hour vibe.
Bright Light Bright Light
Bright Light Bright Light is the stage name for across-the-pond singer/songwriter and based on his latest outing Choreography there is no better name for this sparkling talent. On Choreography, he collaborates with some of the biggest names in LGBT music, combining to make an electronic style dance record that will keep the beats pumping for you throughout the summer. From the first strains of the 80s inspired “All In The Name” it is obvious that this is a different kind of artist. I mean, who else could get the iconic Elton John to join him on this track? The track gets a surprise anthem style dance mix from Dirty Pop, with Drew G and Brian Cua slapping their hypnotic style mix onto this track, but keeping the original flavor or this unique track, making it perfect for a summer circuit party dance floor.
Choreography as a whole is a perfectly packaged pop collection, with strong hints of early Pet Shop Boys and Thompson Twins. One of the highlights of the album is the down tempo love song “Little Bit,” which could be the perfect summer night love song.
Aris may have sharpened up his style, but his musical edges remain as razor sharp as ever, as you will see in his latest offering, Pulse. While the title is ominously timely, Aris’ wonderful package of music has an ongoing theme of loving, and of truly living, which is a message we all could use right now. In fact, Aris has chosen to donate all proceeds from his song “Pulse,” to assist families affected by the Orlando tragedies (a wonderfully ironic gesture, as this track has essentially samples Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” a classic anthem for the LGBT community). As for the musical content on “Pulse,” it is in a word, sublime. Aris’ gritty and raw vocals are my personal preference, and his material melds perfectly with them. He rips through tracks like “Reborn” and “Stay The Night,” and gives some love to the dance floor on tracks like “The Music” and “Rain.” One of Aris’ strongest influences is the glorious Paula Cole, who is featured on the track “Love (Thank You),” and it is because of artists like Aris that stellar vocalists like Cole are kept as part of the cultural lexicon. Aris dips his toe into the “remix” arena with the “Dancehaus” mix of “Reborn,” breathing a new kind of life into this track. This package of tracks from this talented and unique artist is the perfect late night soundtrack to get you through those extra long summer nights.
There are very few artists that have shown their constant love for the LGBT community like Kristine W. Out There is her latest offering, and getting a new package of Kristine W remixes is the perfect way to cap off a month where we have been our proudest yet. As expected, Kristine W has worked with some heavy hitters for this package of mixes, which should take us through right to the fall with the different flavors being offered. The “Moto Blanco Club Mix” offer the classic build up through the verses leading to Kristine’s soaring vocals on the chorus, giving you the perfect peak hour dance floor hit. “Out There” is a more earthy and smooth type of track from our favorite showgirl, and these mixes meld perfectly with that. The “Giuseppe D Extended Club Mix” is slightly heavier on the keys during the verses, giving it a 90s style feel, while the “Loop Shoop Club Mix” gives the track a super electronica vibe. One of the biggest treats on the entire album is the “Razor and Guido Only Love Club Mix.” With Guido’s sudden passing earlier this year, this could very well be one of the final mixes that they worked on together, and they did not disappoint. The classic “R&G” signatures are all there, the frenetic feel through the verses, the rapid-fire drums, and the vocals that seem to be weaved perfectly into the instrumentals. Out There is destined to keep us all out on the dance floors long after the sun has set this summer.
The Soundtrack to Hamilton
After tearing through the Tony’s this month, Hamilton is set to be one of the most successful musicals to ever storm the Great White Way. While the casting and rap inspired re-telling of America’s history by the divine Lin-Manuel Miranda is a huge part of it, the soundtrack to this event of a musical holds the story together beautifully. From the first strains of the lead song from this soundtrack, “Alexander Hamilton,” you can tell that this is something very special. Jonathan Groff is a treat on tracks like “What Comes Next” and “You’ll Be Back” as the ominous King George, while Leslie Odom Jr. as “Aaron Burr” weaves the historical content of the musical through a modern day rapid fire hip hop verse, on tracks like “Guns and Ships” and “Aaron Burr Sr.,” while more traditional fans of Broadway musicals will be in their glory with tracks like “Wait For It” and “That Would Be Enough.” Much of the glory of this soundtrack belongs to the soaring vocals of Renee Elise Goldsberry and Phillipa Soo, who while playing Angelica Schuyler and Eliza Hamilton respectively, can tear into rap verses (“Satisfied”) as quickly as deliver a soaring and lush vocal on a spectacular and heartfelt ballad (“Burn”). These ladies draw so much emotion from their performances, and are the heart of “Hamilton” in its most pure form.