Jake’s Take’s New Music Reviews (Week of August 24, 2018)

By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com

When Labor Day (September 3, 2018) hits, not only will I be celebrating my 30th birthday, but it will also signal the end of summer.  As students and teachers across the country are preparing to head back to school, several of our favorite artists have released new music to keep our summer memories alive.  Let’s get this party started!

 

(Album cover property of Republic Records)

Sweetener by Ariana Grande

A lot has happened in Ariana Grande’s life since she released her last album, 2016’s Dangerous Woman. From facing the aftermath of the Manchester Arena bombing during a performance of her Dangerous Woman Tour head on to her whirlwind romance and engagement to Saturday Night Live performer Pete Davidson, it is probably safe to say that the “Problem” singer-songwriter mainly wants to focus on new music.  Sweetener showcases Ms. Grande’s growth as a singer in 15 uniquely sculpted tracks.  Super music producers Max Martin, Ilya, and Pharrell Williams, joined the Hairspray: Live performer on Sweetener’s album production. Other producers that assisted Grande in the production process included Savan Kotecha, Hit-Boy, and Missy Elliott, who appeared on “borderline.”  Sweetener is a strong album and could set the standard when it comes to blending both pop and hip-hop music.  A-

Tracks to Download: “Blazed,” “The Light is Coming,” “Breathin,”
“Sweetener,” & “No Tears Left To Cry.”
 

First Time by Liam Payne

Former One Direction star Liam Payne released his first solo EP.  First Time was a problematic EP for me to listen to because it was hard for me to determine Liam’s musical genre.  First Time had an unnecessary smorgasbord that reflected various music genres such as pop/hip-hop (“First Time” with French Montana),  electro-pop (“Slow”), and pop/R&B  (“Depend On It”), he should have stuck with one genre.  If he wants to succeed in the industry the “Home With You” singer has to pick a lane and fast, otherwise he is going to flop. D+  

Tracks to Download: None  

SOS” by Cher

Cher’s Dancing Queen is one of pop music’s most highly anticipated albums that will release this fall. The recording icon and Oscar-winning actress is tackling some of the legendary pop group ABBA’s classic songs. After conquering “Gimmie! Gimmie! Gimmie! (A Man After Midnight),” the “Believe” singer set her sights on “SOS.” While it is not exactly the grand slam like “Gimmie!” “SOS” will transport listeners behind Club Cher’s velvet rope into the ultimate dance party.  I genuinely believe that Bjorn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Stig Anderson would be thrilled with Cher’s interpretation of the song. B+

 

Janet Jackson and Daddy Yankee Made For You

(Album cover property of Rhythm Nation Records & Cinq Music Group LLC)

 

Made for Now” by Janet Jackson & Daddy Yankee

Three years after releasing Unbreakable, Janet Jackson dropped a new single. The “Rhythm Nation” artist collaborated with Reggaetón and hip-hop artist Daddy Yankee on a new song called “Made for Now.” This song will put listeners in an overall good mood. Also, it shows both artists at their peak. Listeners would smile when they hear Janet cooing in their ears, while Daddy Yankee’s rap solo would earn some fist pumps. “Made for Now” maybe be one of the best collaborations of 2018! A

Goodbye” by Jason Derulo, David Guetta, Nicki Minaj & Willy William

Jason Derulo and David Guetta teamed up with Nicki Minaj and Willy William for an attractive new single. “Goodbye” blends pop, R&B, dance, and hip-hop for an intriguing collaboration that showcases smooth vocals from Derulo and a sturdy rap from Minaj. Also, classical crossover fans would be interested to hear “Time to Say Goodbye” sounds like if it was an upbeat track. B

Promises” by Calvin Harris & Sam Smith

Calvin Harris and Sam Smith are two of the United Kingdom’s hottest music exports. I am surprised that it has taken them this long to collaborate. I believe Smith’s subdued vocals might turn listeners off from the song and I wished that the “Sweet Nothing” DJ allowed “Too Good at Goodbyes” singer-songwriter to cut loose.  Otherwise, it is just an average song. C/C-

“8 Letters” by Why Don’t We

On August 31, boyband Why Don’t We will release their debut studio album. The quintet of Daniel Seavey, Jonah Marais, Corbyn Besson, Jack Avery, and Zach Herron have taken social media by storm thanks to their collaborations with influencer Logan Paul, but before they released their 8 Letters, they released the cover track. Why Don’t We’s “8 Letters” is going to be a song that has the potential to help the group continue to explode onto the international music market.  “8 Letters” showcases the group’s smooth vocal harmonies, plus the excellent guitar hooks and drumming would put listeners in a trance. I have to say that Why Don’t We might be conquering the remaining months of 2018 and deep into 2019! B+

Artists to Watch:

Artists to Watch is back with several new performers and bands that might shake up the music industry.

 

(Album cover property of Polydor Records & Universal Music Group)

SECURE by Stefflon Don

When I first heard Ne-Yo’s “Push Back,” I fell hard for Stefflon Don’s epic rap licks. SECURE showcases a plethora of tracks that could lead to a promising career in the music industry. Her collaborations with Future (“What You Want”), Tiggs Da Author (“Pretty Girl”), Ebenezer (“Uber”), and Fekky (“Both Ways”) play to her strengths, while “Lil Bitch” and “Crunch Time” showcases her intensity in her raps. SECURE also shows that Stefflon Don has the stamina to tackle the music industry marathon head on!  I firmly believe that this MC is going to make significant moves in the rap world. A-

Tracks to Download: “What You Want,” “Pretty Girl,” “Uber,” & “Precious Heavy.”

 

(Album cover property of Republic Records & Universal Music Group)

The Spencer Lee Band EP by the Spencer Lee Band

Earlier this year, the Spencer Lee Band broke out with their catchy hit: “The Wolf.” The track was featured in Fifty Shades Freed, the final chapter of the controversial Fifty Shades of Grey movie franchise. The Kansas-born and LA-based singer-songwriter’s debut four-track EP showcases his impeccable range as it might remind listeners of hearing Jason Mraz and Gavin DeGraw for the very first time. While “The Wolf” definitely showcased that he could take rock to the dance hall, both his cover of Joe Cocker’s “With A Little Help From My Friends” and “River Water,” which he wrote when he was homeless, helped make this self-titled EP one of the year’s most memorable debuts. I think this is just the beginning for Spencer Lee and his fantastic band. A

Tracks to Download: “The Wolf,” “River Water,” & “With A Little Help from My Friends.”

I’m Not Worried Anymore by The Wldlfe

Another band that I have on my radar is the Indianapolis, Indiana-based pop band The Wldlfe. Frontman Jansen Hogan, multi-instrumentalist Carson Hogan, guitarist Jason Boucouras, bass player Jack Crane, and drummer Geoff Jones hope to bring their unique sound to the ever-changing pop music world.  I’m Not Worried Anymore, which drops on August 31, showcases why this quintet needs to be in heavy rotation on both the Top 40 and pop music-based radio stations. A significant amount of the songs could be verifiable Billboard hits, and the band’s artistry will bring in new fans. B+

Tracks to Download: “Headache,” “Real Ones,” “Notch,” & “I Don’t Mind.”

I do not own any of the video clips. They belong to the artists and respective record labels.

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Copyright 2015 Jacob Elyachar