I have been inundated with CDs in the mail for the past few days, so before I get too behind, here are my humble opinions on each. Oh, who am I kidding? I'm not humble. In any case:
will.i.am, Songs About Girls: I am very wary of someone who cannot spell "tasty" correctly (there is no E anywhere in that word, and if you're that desperate to make a rhyme and rhythm work, you are probably in the wrong profession), but I will admit this album has some decent beats on it, notably the Jackson Five-sampling "Fantastic" and his Snoop Dogg collaboration "The Donque Song." However, his rhymes are still a little lacking and a bit repetitive. "And I'll never leave you never, 'cause forever is forever?" "You're a fly girl, fly girl, fly girl, fly girl, you should be my girl, my girl, my girl, my girl?" Redundant is redundant is redundant.
Enrique Iglesias, Insomniac: Holy crap, he has a "Ping Pong" song. No, seriously. The opening beats are from a ping-pong match. The song itself post-pong isn't bad, but the chorus could be catchier. "Push" features a pretty good beat, but also features a collaboration with Lil' Wayne that just sounds awkward. Enrique, you're a Latin lover and crooner. No matter how low you pull your hats, you will never be a G. This record could be aural gold, but he still will likely never be able to meet, let alone surpass, the pop treasure and insane popularity of 2001's Escape.
Jimmy Eat World, Chase This Light: If Futures and Bleed American have a really awesome baby, it would sound like this. Jimmy Eat World effectively shed the "emo" tag and return with a pure pop rock record that's easily one of the best to come out this year. Opening with the radio-ready lead single "Big Casino," the Mesa, Arizona natives will have you singing along to absolutely every "do do do" confection and heartfelt ballad on this album. Your ears will thank you.
Timbaland, Shock Value: Timbaland gave most of his good beats away to Justin Timberlake and that sell-out Nelly Furtado--remember when she sang about being like a bird? Yeah, me neither. "Apologize" with One Republic is pretty heart wrenching, but it's more because of the vocals than the production, and oddly, the most danceable track is "One and Only," featuring Fall Out Boy, who are the Jude Laws of music--they're in everything this year.
Hot Hot Heat, Happiness Ltd.: Someone must have dumped Steve Bays bad, but ladies, if it keeps inspiring him to write songs this good, please continue to break his heart. The curly-haired Canuck and colleagues worked with Planet Verge favorite Butch Walker on this eleven-track ode to love lost that will have you dancing and pouting at the same time--though maybe it's just me, because my lips are so big I always look sad anyway. "Give Up?", "My Best Fiend," and "So So Cold" are my favorites so far, but I really like everything on here.
American Bang, Move to the Music EP: This album, especially the title track (yes, the one from the Verizon commercial), makes me look forward to my 21st birthday so I can listen to this in a seedy bar and do just that on top of it.
*By Jess, who should be doing a million other things than dancing around her room to these today