There are times on Demi Lovato's fourth album when the X Factor mentor herself seems like a bright-eyed contestant eager to please the judges. Big ballads like "In Case," a stripped-down declaration on which she belts way better than Britney Spears
ever could, are designed to showcase her as a real singer rather than a prefab popster. But the slow songs, while displaying the former Disney Channel star's maturity, sometimes get boring and overblown. Certainly, at 20, this girl should still be having fun, which she does in sassy style on "Really Don't Care" (featuring Britain's Cher Lloyd in a Ke$ha-esque cameo) and the even catchier kiss-off "Something That We're Not." Lovato fares better on these guitar-pop confections than on electro-dance tracks that never reach anthemic heights. Still, when Demi ends with the survivor story "Warrior," she's proven herself well enough to get Simon Cowell
Modern Vampires of the City |
For undead bloodsuckers, these vampires - with all their Ivy League preppiness and nerdiness - have lacked a certain bite. But on their latest, New York City's indie darlings show that they've grown some fangs three albums after graduating from Columbia University. Tracks like "Finger Back" pack more rock stomp, while "Worship You" almost shreds like Celtic punk. In another spiky twist, the hip-swerving "Diane Young" lets frontman Ezra Koenig break into his best Elvis impersonation. Elsewhere, the haunting "Hudson," shrouded in gloomy atmosphere, finds Vampire Weekend crossing over to the dark side like born-again goths.
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ROCKS THE PARTY!
It may have been her mentor Jay-Z's house, but Rihanna
turned Brooklyn's Barclays Center into her own personal club during the second of a two-night stand at the arena for her Diamonds World Tour. After a somewhat slow start, the Caribbean queen found her groove during a reggae-centric section featuring bumping grinders such as "Rude Boy" and "What's My Name?" But it was toward the end, with a string of fist-pumping hits going from "We Found Love" to "Where Have You Been," that she made it one massive rave. Her most affecting moments, though, came on ballads like Unapologetic's "What Now" that demonstrated she was more than just a party girl.
It's sure good to hear Stewart finally give the standards a rest, turning back the clock to his songwriting days on these originals. Although there is still some schmaltz on Time, tunes like "Brighton Beach" make for a more satisfying nostalgia trip.
Nicki Minaj who? That's what you'll be saying after hearing Eve's first album since 2002. She reestablishes herself as one of the fiercest female rappers in the game with bangers like the aptly titled "She Bad Bad." This is how to make a comeback.
While Eve's comeback blazes, Nick and Drew Lachey's boy band makes a tepid return with their first studio effort since 2000. Still, there are flashes of heat: The sexy, soulful "Can't Get Enough" is a pretty good Robin Thicke knockoff.
The Music of Nashville
Season 1/Volume 2
With T Bone Burnett serving as executive music producer of the TV drama, the original tunes—and the actors singing them—continue to impress. Soundtrack standouts include Connie Britton's aching "Stronger Than Me."
Did you ever consider going the One Direction route?
I would never consider being in a boy band. It's quite disheartening as a songwriter to see [those] acts.
You probably aren't hurting for dates either.
I guess I attract a little more female attention. It's wicked, isn't it?
Met any musical idols yet?
I've only been starstruck once, when I was 14 and met Don McLean after his concert. I planned on asking him loads of questions, but by the time I got there, I didn't know what to say!
What would you be doing if you weren't in music?
I don't know—this is all I've ever wanted to do!
Who takes the longest to get ready?
MIRANDA & ASHLEY: Angaleena!
ANGALEENA: I'm the oldest, so I have the most wrinkles to cover up!
Who has the most beauty products?
ANGALEENA: Miranda! She's on the road more than us. [To Miranda] You go to Walgreens in every town you play.
MIRANDA: I'm a beauty-product whore. Every time I end up spending like $300.
Do you share products?
ASHLEY: We share everything except for our men.
MIRANDA: We kind of share Blake!
Cocktail of choice?
ASHLEY: Vodka and soda or Sprite Zero.
ANGALEENA: I'm not allowed to have cocktails. Whiskey makes me crazy!
MIRANDA: The Randarita: Bacardi and Crystal Light with a splash of Sprite Zero on ice. It's getting pretty famous!
Solo cups or real glass?
ASHLEY: At home, real glass.
MIRANDA: And we're fancy now on the bus. We moved from Solo cups to washable black plastic cups.
Any tour bus hobbies?
MIRANDA: We color in coloring books.
ANGALEENA: We have Loretta Lynn coloring books. And a fan made us a Pistol Annies coloring book.
ASHLEY: Now we need Pistol Annies paper dolls!
Who would win in a stripper pole dance-off?
ASHLEY: She's got moves we don't have. I'd give it a whirl, but I don't know if I could hang upside down.
If you were all single, who would pick up the most guys?
MIRANDA: We wouldn't bother. We like hanging out with each other.
"Beautiful" Instead of featuring yet another rapper, MC goes old-school with smooth crooner Miguel on this lovely soul-pop ditty.
"Live It Up" There's an all-too-familiar feeling to J.Lo's latest, another electro-dance jam with Pitbull.
MS. LAURYN HILL
"Neurotic Society" Facing jail time for tax evasion, Hill spits rapid-fire social commentary, but it gets lost in the busy production.
"Girls Love Beyoncé" Riffing on "Say My Name" with James Fauntleroy, Drake shows why girls love Drizzy.