In the Cookie Jar – Drag race alumni, a trailblazing songstress, and a pop/LGBT icon
One of the best albums of 2018, and arguably of the past few years will definitely be Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer. This songstress turned actress turned out and proud pansexual has handed us one of the most divine packages of material with this album. The first single “Make Me Feel” is smoothly danceable with an incredible hook, and is already making waves on dance floors all over. The rest of Dirty Computer features songs that are beautifully crafted; with heavy doses of Monae’s lush vocals sprinkled with a double entendre, and a dash of her signature cheekiness. “Screwed” features Hollywood royalty Zoe Kravitz on this disco tinged track, while “Americans” is the bop-filled song of self-empowerment and patriotism that we all can use right now. The package does have it’s true wonderfully risqué moments also; watch the full video for the down tempo “Pynk” and you will see the message Monae is trying to convey with that one. Some of Monae’s best moments are when her music is stripped down to her vocals; “So Afraid” and “Don’t Judge” To have Monae’ (almost) unplugged and they showcase her simplest instrument front and center.
While many people fell for Calum Scott with his gut wrenching of Robyn’s dance anthem “Dancing On My Own.” Scott has taken that notoriety and crafted it into a well-crafted package of tracks on his album Only Human. His now signature rendition of “Dancing On My Own” is included, and as an added treat, there is an acoustic version of the track available, which is beautifully simple. The rest of the package is just as gorgeous as the track that has become so associated to him now. Scott is in his true element with a soaring vocal, and tracks like the wrenching “Hotel Room” and the stripped down “Not Dark Yet” show him in his best possible light. Tracks like “What I Miss Most” put some bass behind Scott’s voice, making it both experimental and instantly danceable. An added treat on this package is the completely awe inspiring love song “You Are the Reason” which on it’s own is more than amazing. It’s only made more wonderful with a little help from fellow reality star alum Leona Lewis who’s smooth vocals are a perfect match for Scott’s (this track is available on iTunes).
Ever since his eclectic and glorious Straight Outta Oz album last year, the world has started to realize that Todrick Hall is not exactly the person you should be sleeping on. If that last album did not convince you, his latest offering Forbidden will solidify Hall’s place in the music world. You would be hard pressed to find a more beat heavy and dance ready package in recent memory. When an album kicks off with a bass heavy track like “Dem Beats” with none other than RuPaul on hand to provide some vocals, you know you are in for a package of music not to be missed. Mother Ru is not the only guest star on the album; from R&B royalty Tamar Braxton on the drum heavy and thought provoking “National Anthem” to the pure and melodic “Lullaby.” Hall has partnered up with some amazing voices on this album. On tracks like “T.H.U.G.” Hall is at his sultry and sexiest best while on tracks like “Ordinary Day” Hall turns topics like racism in today’s world completely on its ear (watch the video on this one to see exactly what Hall has created). On “Forbidden,” Hall partners up with the absolutely divine Jade Novah and “This Is Me” songstress Keala Settle to create a melodic love song, and on “Doll Hairs” he partners up with “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alumni Shangela who can clearly spit a rhyme about getting paid just as easily as she can turn a look. Forbidden shows that Todrick Hall is a force to be reckoned with indeed in this industry; #haleloo indeed!
Kylie Minogue has always been known as one of our favorite imports from Down Under, with a career that abounds with sparkling dance anthems that have kept us packed on dance floors for decades. Her latest offering Dancing takes us into a different direction on the dance floor, but nonetheless keeps us moving. “Golden” gives us a slightly more stripped down Kylie, with the country tinged “Dancin” being the first single, giving us a peek at the Kylie that went direct to Nashville, Tenn. to garner some inspiration for her infectious new sound. “Stop Me From Falling” has a Spanish inspired sound, while “Shelby 68’” is the smooth kind of twang-filled love song that would make Dolly Parton proud. There are definitely tracks that give us the vintage and disco-fied Kylie we fell in love with ,though. “Live A Little” is the perfect peak hour kind of anthem we expect from Ms. Minogue, and “Raining Glitter” could be the lost sequel to “Spinning Around.” Kylie was recently announced as the headliner for New York City Pride, and I have no doubt that she will be giving the boys exactly what they expect on that sure to be scorching Sunday in June.
Coming off the heels of snatching the crown on RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 3 Trixie Mattel took off her crown and picked up her guitar to craft what is arguably one of the best albums to come from RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni. This package is a follow up to Two Birds and it shows that Mattel is much more than a one album wonder. During a chat I had with Trixie, she let me now that the album is very personal, and that is reflected in each track. “Break Your Heart” is an upbeat track with an equally eye popping video, and “Moving Parts” is a mid-tempo anthem that each of us could take something from. Tracks like “Red Side of the Moon” and “Soldier” tell stories that you will know, you simply really have to listen to the lyrics to these thought provoking songs.