Iggy Azalea
Showing posts with label Iggy Azalea. Show all posts

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Review: In My Defense • Iggy Azalea



The campaign for Iggy Azalea’s second studio album sits somewhere between a shock advertisement and a satirical fever dream: Below an image of a bloodied Azalea propped against a car, a magazine advertisement tagline reads, “You tried... but I just won’t die!” In a way, it seems like the most appropriate return: After years of strange label-prompted career moves, unprovoked assaults from fellow rappers across the industry, and weird social media feuds with sub-par pizza chains, she stumbled face-first down the popularity ladder. And in hindsight, it seems that the best possible move Iggy Azalea made in her career was one into her own lane.

In My Defense, assumed to hold a similar thematic scheme as her aborted major-label sophomore record Digital Distortion, attempts to resuscitate her credibility. Rather than packing the record with flimsy self-pity and empowerment, she rebrands herself as a dirty emcee with an average amount of musical proficiency. Though not a bad thing, she is downright filthy compared to her past life, sometimes to the point of comic relief: There's a lot of idle talk about her vagina, her strong desire to fuck and nut, and the capacity to which her ass can bounce while showered with dollar bills.  It’s a change in venue for Azalea – one so drastic that it inspires thought as to how her first record, a tame statement by comparison, was created in the first place.

When Azalea secured the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100, we as a society were just considering a pivot away from the idea that a radio rap track needed a Rihanna-ready pop hook. Knowing her limitations, Iggy Azalea was a feature-heavy artist at her height – but today’s climate is much different, giving plenty of leniency for a spoken or nonexistent hook if the verses can build their own hype. While her production choices are limited in scope and her hooks are largely underdeveloped here, rarely reaching the infectiousness of “Started” or “Thanks I Get,” her verses are generally pointed. (Although it is easy to latch onto the infinite loop of “Fuck it up, sis” on Kash Doll-featuring “Fuck It Up.”)

Azalea once thrived in a commercial environment, and now an independent artist, she has made a lateral move to campy viral fame: Video concepts from the album are packed with drag queens and dead sugar daddies, and with her profile picture set to Karen from Mean Girls mid-eye roll, Azalea’s most recent Twitter beef was with a slab of pork. (It was newfound pop icon Peppa Pig, to be precise.) Club-bound and ready to party, she doesn't make much of substance but serves plenty to soundtrack ass-shakes and body-grinds at the bar. And although it doesn't translate all that well into an album filled with stock-build, color-by-numbers rap tracks, she is at her most likable on a personal level. She hasn't hit the sweet spot just yet, but claiming her independence – which she has done here – is certainly the first step to finding it.

In My Defense is available now under Bad Dreams Records.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Survive the Summer | Iggy Azalea



Fame has been a weird ride for Iggy Azalea. After calling the internet to her attention with her Ignorant Art mixtape and viral track “Pu$$y,” she began a three-year stretch of major label jumps and false starts for her debut record, The New Classic. When “Work” and “Fancy” transcended internet popularity, the record materialized in the spring of 2014 as a commercialized hip-house record. And in many ways, it was a marketed like a pop record: Its third hit was written by Katy Perry and featured professional featured-artist-only Rita Ora, and it was quickly re-released by the holiday season with a few extra tracks to capitalize on its short-lived success.

Azalea's fall from grace was about as rocky as her rise to fame, as tweets and song lyrics predating her popularity outlined a relatively insensitive attitude from a white woman whose career is rooted in black culture. (To date, she still hasn't admitted to being a problem.) Following what seemed to be the most logical agenda, however, the aborted Digital Distortion project and “Savior,” her first single with Island Records that isn't included on this set, tried to sell Azalea as a harmless, rags-to-riches underdog and a continued resident of the club charts. Tame, underappreciated bangers like “Team” and “Mo Bounce” are glued together with spiked electronics and choruses that work so hard to hide the fact that Azalea is, by all accounts, not a singer.

The philosophy behind Survive the Summer, meanwhile, is to restore Iggy Azalea to the glory of her mixtape days amid hip-hop’s dominance in the mainstream. The extended play ditches poppy choruses and dance orientation for a return to unadulterated hip-hop, hauling in established acts Wiz Khalifa and Tyga to begin to position Azalea as a legitimate rapper. She has been long criticized for an awkward, abrasive flow and a rapping tone that grazes appropriation of black vernacular. And that certainly doesn’t change here — still with an aggressive, faux-Southern husk, she stumbles from time to time. (Check out the misplaced vocal inflection when she says, “Label tripping, so I switch. Which one, which one?” on the title track, for example. Big yikes.)

True to the classic boastful rap trope, Iggy Azalea is very much caught up in being Iggy Azalea... which is strange coming from someone with as much remaining star power as Iggy Azalea. (The title of the extended play is oh-so ironic for that very reason.) She feigns ignorance to the trajectory of her career and public image to this point, and oftentimes, she diverts the source of her confidence to her sexual ability: “Kawasaki,” which mirrors the sound of back catalog gem “Murda Bizness,” is all about riding around on, well, something that has two circular objects beneath it, and lead single “Kream” is all about ass and cash — two of the four classical elements, of course.

The sexed-up music video for "Kream," predominately featuring the largest product of Azalea's cosmetic surgeries, has nearly crested 70 million views: A whimper in comparison to the hundreds of millions of streams on the clips for her earliest hits, but an admirable roar when stacked against the 15 million for "Savior," released early this year. Is it a sign that there's some success to be found in the plan to lodge Iggy Azalea into the list of defining figureheads in hip-hop? Perhaps. But this extended play sets its sights short, dedicated to making Iggy Azalea survive only this summer — it still doesn't take her crippled career off life support or lengthen its expectancy.

Survive the Summer is out now via Island Records.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Obligatory Informal Chat About Some 2016 Singles

I know, I've been unintentionally mute over the handful of singles to have come out this year. My mess of a personal life used and abused me since the turn of the year. Now it's May and I have some free time, so I have no other excuses to delay this little kiki. Let's catch up on some pop music without the formalities of a full album review, shall we?


"I'm in Control" by AlunaGeorge: Body Music was pretty good in its own little way, but this single proves that AlunaGeorge's next album is going to be next level. ("I Remember" and "My Blood" are fire, too, so check those out.)


"Team" by Iggy Azalea: Don't turn on me two songs into this list, but I'm an Iggy Azalea apologist through and through. This song is a jam, especially that little ditty of a bridge that comes out of nowhere. I regret nothing.


"The Big Big Beat" by Azealia Banks: Azealia's Slay-Z mixtape is okay, but we all know she can do much better, don't we? Even my girl Iggy's single is better than this, and we all know who the superior female rapper is supposed to be in the eyes of critics.


"Reminds Me" by Noonie Bao: Now, this woman knows how to make a pop song, yet nobody seems to have taken notice. It's time to notice, people.


"Formation" by Beyoncé: Um, it's Beyoncé and it's politically-charged. So it slays. It slays hard. Just like she does. NOW LET'S GET IN FORMATION.


"Work from Home" by Fifth Harmony feat. Ty Dolla $ign: Part Rugrats theme song, part bondafide bop.


"Here's To Us" by Ellie Goulding: Ellie is the gift that just keeps giving. Even after releasing a 400 track album, she still has another track to contribute to a soundtrack. And it's pretty great.


"Dangerous Woman" by Ariana Grande: This is a new direction for Ariana Grande in so many ways: the sultry guitar solo, the sexy midtempo rate, the lack of ponytail. Oh, and for the second time ever, there isn't a featured artist or unaccredited shouting black man on an Ariana Grande single. It's quite a treat. (And go get your life from "Be Alright," too. It's possibly one of the best things that Ariana has gifted us with.)


"This is What You Came For" by Calvin Harris feat. Rihanna: Capital Y-A-S. This is the Rihanna we all expected on Anti but definitely did not get. So yes, this is exactly what I came for.


"Boy Problems" by Carly Rae Jepsen: She's flawless and we just have to accept it. Also, go read my open letter to global sax-repopularizing singer of song Carly Rae Jepsen and buy "Run Away with Me" on iTunes. Thanks in advance.


"Close" by Nick Jonas feat. Tove Lo: Holy mother of YES. I smell some record label pressure to get Tove on this track to spark a new interest in both artists with just one music video budget, so it's a good thing she meshes perfectly with our Nick Jonas here. (P.S. - "Champagne Problems" is also catchy as hell.)


"Gold" by Kiiara: Her full EP is kind of disappointing, but this song goes hard. She's effortlessly badass and this track reeks of swagger. I love it.


"Be the One" by Dua Lipa: Possibly the best single to come from this year thus far. (I know it didn't technically come out this year, but it has found its livelihood in the past few months. Just shush and let me flaunt third-tier queen of pop Dua Lipa for all she's worth.)


"Last Dance" by Dua Lipa: Okay, also super amazing. (I know there's a Dua Lipa single right above this. I did it on purpose. Don't sleep on this girl, y'all.)


"Rewear It" by M.I.A.: Leave it to M.I.A. to make a track for an clothing advert and end up conjuring straight fire.


"Just Like Fire" by P!nk: I feel like every time P!nk comes back with a new single, it's like discovering her for the first time all over again. She's so low profile in between album cycles that it's hard to remember she exists. This song's alright but forgettable -- which is not in P!nk's usual nature. It's a soundtrack song, though, so I guess it's a forgivable offense.


"I Took a Pill in Ibiza (Seeb Remix)" by Mike Posner: I'm not really sure how Mike Posner, creator of forgettable late 2000s Top 40 anthem "Cooler Than Me," regained relevance or when he became an acoustic singer-songwriter, but he has. Normally, only uneducated trash prefer radio mixes over original versions of songs. But I suppose this one can be an exception, because it's really damn good. I apologize for being uneducated trash.


"No Broken Hearts" by Bebe Rexha feat. Nicki Minaj: What happened to Bebe Rexha and who replaced her with a carbon copy of Rita Ora? In comparison to last year's I Don't Wanna Grow Up extended play, this track from Bebe Ora is just dreadful.


"Work" by Rihanna feat. Drake: It took me six weeks to nail down what Rihanna is uttering in the chorus. After that, the song and I have had a much more positive relationship than when I could only mumble the melody. After all, what good is a Rihanna song if you can't sing along? ("Kiss It Better" makes me want to do naughty things, by the way. Don't ignore that one, either.)


"Rock Bottom" by Hailee Steinfeld feat. DNCE: Look at that, faceless little songbird Hailee Steinfeld got herself another moderate hit. This was the second-best cut from her debut extended play, so God bless her record label for pushing this one.


"Boyfriend" by Tegan and Sara: Tegan and Sara are very much pop now, but they haven't lost the passive-aggressiveness that allowed them to thrive in that Avril Lavigne-y pop-punk space that they dwelled in for so long. That's what makes this such a great tune.


"No" by Meghan Trainor: Okay, this bad boy channels the early '00s pop scene, like, really well? She's saying "no," but I'm giving the track a solid "YAS."


"True Colors" by Zedd feat. Kesha: This track is incredibly important because WE GOT OUR KESHA BACK (kind of). Oh, and it's remarkably better than the version included on Zedd's album of the same name last year.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Singles Summary: May 2015



Becky G // "Lovin' So Hard"
TBA, Kemosabe
★★☆☆☆

Three pre-album singles in a one year period, yet there are still no definitive plans for Becky G's debut studio album. The infectious jams "Shower" and "Can't Stop Dancin'" were dropped this year, followed by the uninspired "Lovin' So Hard" this year. This new love song lacks the infectious kick of her past singles, but she tries to mask that fact with a mushy video full of scenes featuring her boyfriend, Austin Mahone.


Hilary Duff // "Sparks"
Breathe In, Breathe Out, RCA
★★★★☆

After two ill-fated single releases last year, Hilary Duff is back to promoting her upcoming fifth studio album, Breathe In, Breathe Out. "Sparks" was released last month, with the music video making its appearance this month. The video is much more of an ad for Tinder than a music video, but the cut-away dance scenes actually look nice. The song, on the other hand, is an amazing nod to '90s and early '00s synthpop with an ear-catching whistle post-chorus.



M.I.A. // "Platforms"
TBA, released demo
★★★★☆

M.I.A. is back in the studio and is already leaking demos out to her fans. She dropped "Platforms" on Soundcloud this month, a song that delivers next-level production and slow-paced rap-singing. The ambient, futuristic backdrop impresses, while M.I.A. makes a statement on the progression and availability of the Internet and media, among other things: "Rolling by scrolling for the future on the app / Data mine my mind like a diamond in the rough."



Sia // "California Dreamin'"
San Andreas (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), WaterTower
★★★★☆

After she penned Jessie J's piece for the second installment of the Pitch Perfect franchise and released a track with Giorgio Moroder last month, Sia has dropped a new track. Her unique spin on the Mamas and Papas' "California Dreamin'" was tagged on the end of the soundtrack to San Andreas. The original piece has been transformed into a somber, dramatic piece to match the movie it accompanies. Sia's vocal is stunning (per usual), and the haunting direction that she took the song is perfect for the theater.


Taylor Swift feat. Kendrick Lamar // "Bad Blood"
1989, Big Machine
★★★★☆

Watch yourself, Katy Perry. Taylor Swift is back for blood and called in all of her friends for back-up. At the Billboard Music Awards, she premiered the star-studded music video for a new remix of "Bad Blood," which features rapper Kendrick Lamar. This version strips off Swift's verses in favor of Lamar's raps, adds some bass, and only allows Swift the choruses and bridge of the song. Considering that 1989 has already effortlessly sold millions of copies and should be losing steam, a revamped remix with a huge star is just the right move for Swift.


Britney Spears & Iggy Azalea // "Pretty Girls"
TBA, RCA
★★★☆☆

Put one of the most prominent artists of the new millennium and one of last year's biggest artists together in one song, and what do you get? A short hip-hop infused track titled "Pretty Girls." 

Britney Spears has given up on the Britney Jean ideal of helping write her own music; instead, she hands the writing credits over to the girls of Little Mix and the production trio The Invisible Men. Along for the ride is Australian rapper Iggy Azalea, who gets to sing along Spears in the chorus and makes a short rap appearance. 

The song lacks the certain pop bite of many of Spears' other pieces, but it is a sufficient addition to her discography. It is reminiscent of Azalea's own "Fancy" and Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl," but it has just enough spark to set itself apart. Spears' vocals are still heavily edited (as expected), giving her a youthful sound that counteracts with Azalea's deeper approach as they chant, "All around the world, pretty girls wipe the floor with all the boys." 

As for Azalea, this could be just the right ticket to get her back on the bright side of pop culture. An unflattering Vine meme of her rapping at a SXSW performance circulated the web earlier this year, making her the butt of many jokes. Azalea's rap verse is not her best (there's still a lot of "Iggy, Iggy, Iggy-Iggs, Igg, Iggy, Iggy" in there to fill her gaps), but it's nice to hear her in the hook of the song. 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

2015 Grammy Awards Predictions (Pop Categories)


Selections that are boldfaced are the ones that will win based on past Grammy snubs and wins, but selections that are underlined are the ones that should win based on quality and commercial performance.

RECORD OF THE YEAR

"Fancy" by Iggy Azalea feat. Charli XCX (Def Jam)
"Chandelier" by Sia (RCA)
"Stay With Me (Darkchild Version)" by Sam Smith (Capitol)
"Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift (Big Machine)
"All About That Bass" by Meghan Trainor (Epic)

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

Morning Phase by Beck (Capitol)
Beyoncé by Beyoncé (Columbia)
X by Ed Sheeran (Atlantic)
In The Lonely Hour by Sam Smith (Capitol)
Girl by Pharrell Williams (Columbia)

SONG OF THE YEAR

"All About That Bass" by Meghan Trainor (Epic)
"Chandelier" by Sia (RCA/Monkey Puzzle)
"Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift (Big Machine)
"Stay With Me (Darkchild Version)" by Sam Smith (Capitol)
"Take Me To Church" by Hozier (Columbia)

BEST NEW ARTIST

Iggy Azalea (Def Jam)
Bastille (Virgin)
Brandy Clark (Slate Creek)
Haim (Columbia)
Sam Smith (Capitol)

BEST POP SOLO PERFORMANCE

"All Of Me (Live)" by John Legend (Columbia)
"Chandelier" by Sia (RCA/Monkey Puzzle)
"Stay With Me (Darkchild Version)" by Sam Smith (Capitol)
"Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift (Big Machine)
"Happy (Live)" by Pharrell Williams (Columbia)

BEST POP DUO/GROUP PERFORMANCE

"Fancy" by Iggy Azalea featuring Charli XCX (Def Jam)
"A Sky Full Of Stars" by Coldplay (Atlantic/Parlophone)
"Say Something" by A Great Big World featuring Christina Aguilera (Epic)
"Bang Bang" by Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj (Republic)
"Dark Horse" by Katy Perry featuring Juicy J (Capitol)

BEST TRADITION POP VOCAL ALBUM

Cheek to Cheek by Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga (Columbia/Interscope/Streamline/RPM)
Nostalgia by Annie Lennox (Blue Note)
Night Songs by Barry Manilow (Stiletto)
Sending You A Little Christmas by Johnny Mathis (Columbia)
Partners by Barbra Streisand (with various artists) (Columbia)

BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM

Ghost Stories by Coldplay (Atlantic/Parlophone)
Bangerz by Miley Cyrus (RCA)
My Everything by Ariana Grande (Republic)
Prism by Katy Perry (Capitol)
X by Ed Sheeran (Atlantic)
In The Lonely Hour by Sam Smith (Capitol)

Watch the 57th Grammy Awards ceremony on Sunday, February 8, 2015. The awards will be televised live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles starting at 8 p.m. EST. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Top 100 Songs of 2014

This list contains singles and non-singles. My own choices for the Top 20 Singles of 2014 have been integrated into this post.

  1. "Chandelier" by Sia (1000 Forms of Fear, RCA / Monkey Puzzle)
  2. "Two Weeks" by FKA twigs (LP1, Young Turks)
  3. "Fancy" by Iggy Azalea feat. Charli XCX (The New Classic, Def Jam)
  4. "Problem" by Ariana Grande feat. Iggy Azalea (My Everything, Republic)
  5. "Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift (1989, Big Machine)
  6. "West Coast" by Lana Del Rey (Ultraviolence, Interscope)
  7. "Carolina" by Kimbra (The Golden Echo, Warner Bros.)
  8. "Heavy Metal & Reflective" by Azealia Banks (Broke with Expensive Taste, Prospect Park)
  9. "Habits (Stay High)" by Tove Lo (Queen of the Clouds, Island)
  10. "Bridges" by Broods (Evergreen, Capitol)
  11. "Ghost" by Ella Henderson (Chapter One, Syco / Columbia)
  12. "Silent Partner" by La Roux (Trouble in Paradise, Interscope / Cherrytree)
  13. "Style" by Taylor Swift (1989, Big Machine)
  14. "Hideaway" by Kiesza (Sound of a Woman, Lokal Legend)
  15. "Break Free" by Ariana Grande (My Everything, Republic)
  16. "Cruel World" by Lana Del Rey (Ultraviolence, Interscope)
  17. "Hunger of the Pine" by alt-J (This is All Yours, Atlantic)
  18. "Up We Go" by Lights (Little Machines, Warner Bros.)
  19. "Sky Full of Stars" by Coldplay (Ghost Stories, Atlantic)
  20. "Beggin for Thread" by Banks (Goddess, Harvest)
  21. "Pendulum" by FKA twigs (LP1, Young Turks)
  22. "Say Something" by A Great Big World feat. Christina Aguilera (Is Anybody Out There?, Epic)
  23. "Bed of Lies" by Nicki Minaj feat. Skylar Grey (The Pinkprint, Republic / Cash Money)
  24. "Heroes (we could be)" by Alesso feat. Tove Lo (TBA, Def Jam)
  25. "Hard Out Here" by Lily Allen (Sheezus, Warner Bros. / Regal)
  26. "Pray to God" by Calvin Harris feat. Haim (Motion, Columbia)
  27. "Uptown Funk!" by Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars (Uptown Special, Sony)
  28. "Black Widow" by Iggy Azalea feat. Rita Ora (The New Classic, Def Jam)
  29. "The Driver" by Bastille (VS. (Other People's Heartache, Pt. III), Virgin)
  30. "Teen Heat" by Kimbra (The Golden Echo, Warner Bros.)
  31. "All About That Bass" by Meghan Trainor (Title, Epic)
  32. "Yellow Flicker Beat" by Lorde (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part One OST, Republic)
  33. "Happy Little Pill" by Troye Sivan (TRXYE, EMI Australia)
  34. "Girls Chase Boys" by Ingrid Michaelson (Lights Out, Cabin 24)
  35. "Outside" by Calvin Harris feat. Ellie Goulding (Motion, Columbia)
  36. "Brain" by Banks (Goddess, Harvest)
  37. "Mother & Father" by Broods (Evergreen, Capitol)
  38. "Magic" by Coldplay (Ghost Stories, Atlantic)
  39. "Night Changes" by One Direction (Four, Syco / Columbia)
  40. "Oil & Water" by Lights (Little Machines, Warner Bros.)
  41. "Empire" by Shakira (Shakira, RCA)
  42. "bad_news" by Bastille (VS. (Other People's Heartache, Pt. III), Virgin)
  43. "Let Go For Tonight" by Foxes (Glorious, Sign of the Times / Sony UK)
  44. "Uptight Downtown" by La Roux (Trouble in Paradise, Interscope / Cherrytree)
  45. "Take Ü There" by Jack Ü feat. Kiesza (TBA, OWSLA / Mad Decent)
  46. "Bang Bang" by Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj (Sweet Talker, Republic)
  47. "Scream My Name" by Tove Lo (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part One OST, Republic)
  48. "Boom Clap" by Charli XCX (Sucker, Atlantic / Neon Gold)
  49. "Blame" by Calvin Harris feat. John Newman (Motion, Columbia)
  50. "Beating Heart" by Ellie Goulding (Divergent OST, Interscope)
  51. "Left Hand Free" by alt-J (This is All Yours, Atlantic)
  52. "Stolen Dance" by Milky Chance (Sadnecessary, Lichtdicht)
  53. "Fall in Love" by Phantogram (Voices, Republic)
  54. "My Song 5" by Haim feat. A$AP Rocky (Days Are Gone, Columbia)
  55. "Coming of Age" by Foster the People (Supermodel, Columbia)
  56. "Ain't it Fun" by Paramore (Paramore, Fueled by Ramen)
  57. "Go" by Grimes feat. Blood Diamonds (TBA, 4AD)
  58. "Old Money" by Lana Del Rey (Ultraviolence, Interscope)
  59. "Eye of the Needle" by Sia (1000 Forms of Fear, RCA / Monkey Puzzle)
  60. "Pulses" by Karmin (Pulses, Epic)
  61. "Sledgehammer" by Fifth Harmony (Reflection, Epic / Syco)
  62. "Chasing Time" by Azealia Banks (Broke With Expensive Taste, Prospect Park)
  63. "The Heart Wants What It Wants" by Selena Gomez (For You, Hollywood)
  64. "Stay With Me" by Sam Smith (In the Lonely Hour, Capitol)
  65. "Jealous" by Nick Jonas (Nick Jonas, Island)
  66. "Stockholm Syndrome" by One Direction (Four, Syco / Columbia)
  67. "Young Blood" by Bea Miller (Young Blood EP, Hollywood)
  68. "Far Side of the Moon" by Tinashe (Aquarius, RCA)
  69. "***Flawless" by Beyoncé feat. Nicki Minaj (Beyoncé: Platinum Edition, Columbia / Parkwood)
  70. "First Love" by Jennifer Lopez (A.K.A., Capitol)
  71. "Shatter Me" by Lindsey Sterling feat. Lzzy Hale (Shatter Me, Lindseystomp)
  72. "Shower" by Becky G (TBA, Kemosabe)
  73. "Digital Witness" by St. Vincent (St. Vincent, Republic / Loma Vista)
  74. "Riptide" by Vance Joy (Dream Your Life Away, Atlantic)
  75. "Bang My Head" by David Guetta feat. Sia (Listen, What a Music / Atlantic)
  76. "You Should Know Where I'm Coming From" by Banks (Goddess, Harvest)
  77. "Wildest Dreams" by Taylor Swift (1989, Big Machine)
  78. "Human" by Christina Perri (Head or Heart, Atlantic)
  79. "Overdose" by Little Daylight (Hello Memory, Capitol)
  80. "Latch" by Disclosure feat. Sam Smith (Settle, Interscope / Cherrytree)
  81. "Jerk Ribs" by Kelis (Food, Ninja Tune)
  82. "Dare (La La La)" by Shakira (Shakira, RCA)
  83. "Glory Days" by Betty Who (Take Me When You Go, RCA)
  84. "Baby Don't Lie" by Gwen Stefani (TBA, Interscope)
  85. "Best Friend" by Foster the People (Supermodel, Columbia)
  86. "Title" by Meghan Trainor (Title, Epic)
  87. "Rather Be" by Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynne (New Eyes, Atlantic)
  88. "Cool Kids" by Echosmith (Talking Dreams, Warner Bros.)
  89. "Talking to Ghosts" by Foxes (Glorious, Sign of the Times / Sony UK)
  90. "Muscle Memory" by Lights (Little Machines, Warner Bros.)
  91. "Sirens" by Cher Lloyd (Sorry I'm Late, Epic)
  92. "Burnin' Up" by Jessie J feat. 2 Chainz (Sweet Talker, Republic)
  93. "7/11" by Beyoncé (Beyoncé: Platinum Edition, Columbia / Parkwood)
  94. "One Night Town" by Ingrid Michaelson feat. Mat Kearney (Lights Out, Cabin 24)
  95. "BO$$" by Fifth Harmony (Reflection, Epic / Syco)
  96. "Anaconda" by Nicki Minaj (The Pinkprint, Republic / Cash Money)
  97. "Break the Rules" by Charli XCX (Sucker, Atlantic / Neon Gold)
  98. "Love Me Harder" by Ariana Grande & The Weeknd (My Everything, Republic)
  99. "2 On" by Tinashe feat. ScHoolboy Q (Aquarius, RCA)
  100. "Fun" by Troye Sivan (TRXYE, EMI Australia)

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Top 20 Singles of 2014


1. "Chandelier" - Sia

With a voice exuding the force of a fired cannonball and unnatural pop music writing capabilities, Sia Furler was bound for a massive radio hit eventually. Earlier this year, she unleashed "Chandelier" and watched as the song climbed the Billboard Hot 100 and its twisted music video racked up over 360,000,000 views to date. The track masks haunted memories of alcoholism and depression with a heavy Greg Kurstin production and a chorus that would be great to sing along with... if the notes weren't so extraordinary far into the vocal stratosphere.


2. "Two Weeks" - FKA twigs

Say hello to FKA twigs, this year's sexiest singer-songwriter. She preceded this year's LP1 by capturing everyone's attention with "Two Weeks," a lusty track oozing with desire and clouded in a drug-induced haze. Deep ad-libs and heavy beats layer underneath twigs' fragile soprano voice as it turns into an ethereal whisper across the track. She has her eye fixated on a man and will stop at nothing to get him in between her sheets: from "Pull out the incisor, give me two weeks, you won't recognize her / Mouth open, you're high" to "My thighs are apart for when you're ready to breathe in / Suck me up, I'm healin' for the shit you're dealin'." 


3. "Fancy" - Iggy Azalea feat. Charli XCX

Last year, any mention of Iggy Azalea would have resulted in a response of "Iggy who? Who is that?" This year, on the other hand? A mention of Iggy Azalea will garner a happy response of "Who dat? Who dat? I-G-G-Y." With one booming synth line, a Clueless-inspired video, and a bratty Charli XCX chorus in tow, Iggy Azalea went from "no money, no family, sixteen in the middle of Miami" to one "Fancy" megastar. We all spent the summer memorizing all of Azalea's verses, and we'll remember them for a lifetime with glistening memories of the summer of 2014.


4. "Problem" - Ariana Grande feat. Iggy Azalea

Not only has it been the year of Iggy Azalea and the gluteus maximus, but also the breakthrough year for Ariana Grande. After making an average hit on pop culture with her debut album last year, she came back with a heavy-hitting pop spin. For her initial invasion of the Billboard Hot 100, she packed a punch with "Problem," a track that allows her to showcase her upper register over a heavy bass and horn track. To make things even better, Grande brought Iggy-Iggy-too-biggie in for a killer rap verse to further prove how much she doesn't need that ex-boyfriend. 


5. "Shake It Off" - Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift has turned a new page in her discography textbook as she turns her aim from country to the core of the pop music jugular. Max Martin helped propel her into her newfound battle ground as if she was a longtime staple of the genre with "Shake it Off," an ode that kindly tells her haters to seethe as she takes over the music industry once again. After some spiraling choruses, "'Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play / And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate / Baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake / Shake it off, shake it off," we also get a "Hollaback Girl"-esque breakdown! To put the icing on the cake, the music video for the song is undeniably fun, as Swift tries (and fails) to master twerking, ballet, ribbon-dancing, cheer-leading, and more.


6. "West Coast" - Lana Del Rey

After her tour of Europe in support of Born To Die and Paradise, and dropped her miniature movie, Tropico, Lana Del Rey went mysteriously mute. She suddenly peaked her head back up in April to drop "West Coast," the lead single to this year's Ultraviolence. The song marks a departure from the lush, pop landscapes of her debut album to a rough-edged alternative rock vibe inspired heavily by her time with Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, who produced most of Ultraviolence. The song doesn't follow a normal pattern, as it shifts down in tempo during its chorus as Del Rey's multiple noticeable vocal lines sing, "I can see my baby swingin' / His Parliament's on fire and his hands are up / On the balcony and I'm singing / Ooh, baby, ooh, baby, I'm in love."


7. "Heavy Metal & Reflective" - Azealia Banks

2014 is the year that Azealia Banks should have been having in 2013, on a bigger scale. However, she managed to wiggle out of a death-grip contract with Universal Music Group and triumph, starting with "Heavy Metal & Reflective." What's not to love about it? We get Banks rapping in full force over heavy, glitched synths, a beat that could bring back the dead, and a music video filled with big dogs and loud motorcycles. She emphasizes her seriousness by spitting out her verses in a purposely low-pitched and intimidating accent, setting it apart from many of the other tracks on her Broke With Expensive Taste album. 


8. "Habits (Stay High)" - Tove Lo

Between a extended play, debut album, and her feature on Alesso's "Heroes (we could be)," Swedish artist Tove Lo has had quite a good year. Her breakthrough track, "Habits (Stay High)," has skyrocketed her to new heights as she sings about living her life in a drug-induced haze after a break-up. While not ideal, the message this song spreads is devastating, but that melody line really makes the listener forget about any lyrical meaning. Lo's voice is quality and her songwriting skills are definitely not sub-par; she knows how to make a worthwhile pop song, which could easily make her a worthwhile pop star.


9. "Ghost" - Ella Henderson

While she has already been a huge success in the United Kingdom, the United States was only introduced to Ella Henderson as 2014 was coming to a close. "Ghost," her Ryan Tedder-assisted debut single, proves that Henderson could easy play with the big dogs of the industry. With the vocal warmth and strength of a well-trained reincarnate of Christina Aguilera and the writing credits on-par with many pop artists, I've already fallen in love with Henderson before her debut album has even dropped here (Chapter One will hit American shelves on January 13, 2015). 


10. "Hideaway" - Kiesza

Kiesza has been a leading force this year in the revitalization of '80s and '90s house, and it all started with the release of "Hideaway." With a unique red hairdo, an overemphasized vocal technique, a strong beat, and killer dance moves, Kiesza managed to execute one of the best dance tracks of the year. I think it is also worth mentioning that the music video was shot in just two takes and that Kiesza had a broken rib while doing all of those dance moves; pretty impressive, eh?



11. "Break Free" - Ariana Grande feat. Zedd

After packing a heavy punch on "Problem," Ariana Grande followed-up with another hit in collaboration with electronic dance producer Zedd, titled "Break Free." While some of the lyrics remain ridiculous ("I only wanna die alive, never by the hands of a broken heart," "Like a deadly fever, yeah, babe, on the highway to hell, yeah"), the vocals and production remain the true gleaming stars here. The extended edit of the song in particular concretes Zedd's skills behind the soundboards, while Grande's voice easily fits in the electronic dance genre just as well as other genres she has done previously.


12. "Hunger of the Pine" - alt-J

alt-J's sophomore album, This is All Yours, was surprisingly a downgrade from their exemplary debut, as the band managed to crank out four quality songs form the set and turned to an indie static for the rest. Luckily, their best songs from the album have been released as singles, including the Miley Cyrus-fueled "Hunger of the Pine." The song commences with one single beat pattern and builds Joe Newman's wobbly vocals, horns, drum machines, and Cyrus' echoing "I'm a female rebel" vocal sample on top of it. The band's "Left Hand Free" and "Every Other Freckle" were also strong candidates for this countdown, but "Hunger" was ultimately the strongest song.


13. "Up We Go" - Lights

In the dog days of summer, Lights dropped the song that we all needed: a bubbly, warm synthpop anthem and the announcement of her third studio album. The single, "Up We Go," marks Lights' departure from dark dubstep infusions in favor of light synthpop. The song's uplifting mood effortlessly transfers to the listen as Lights' shouts, "Everyone here is ready to go / It's been a hard year with nothing to show / From down this road, it's only on we go, on we go" over a sparkling synthpop production.


14. "A Sky Full of Stars" - Coldplay

Holy mother of experimentation from the tag team of veteran alt-rock band Coldplay and electronic dance artist Avicii. While 2011's Mylo Xyloto was the furthest Coldplay ever drifted from their home in pop-rock, it was never expected of them to go full-on EDM, but the layers of twinkling synths and driving pace welcome Chris Martin's vocals with open arms. Much like notable dabbles in EDM from Florence Welch, Ariana Grande, and John Newman, Coldplay's quick stunt with dance music was both unexpected and high-quality.


15. "Beggin for Thread" - Banks

Of all of her singles, "Beggin for Thread" is arguably Banks' most radio-friendly track to date with its vulnerable verses and explosive choruses. The song was picked up by SiriusXM's Alt Nation station and it still brings me joy to hear it on the radio. Her lowest croons barrel through the dark production as she threatens, "My words can come out as a pistol and I'm no good at aiming, but I can aim it at you." 


16. "All About That Bass" - Meghan Trainor

Yes, many people find it annoying. Yes, it was overplayed for a few months. Yes, I still love it. "All About That Bass" quickly made Meghan Trainor a household name when it exploded on the charts this summer, introducing us to a new generation of doo-wop and pop. While overly-sensitive Facebook users have gotten into heated discussions over the meaning of the song, most can agree that it is a harmless, fun song promoting a higher self-esteem.



17. "Yellow Flicker Beat" - Lorde

Lorde and producer Joel Little deliver her most explosive chorus yet on this track. While many of her choruses on Pure Heroine are subtle, yet effective, blooms in sound, "Yellow Flicker Beat" explodes with emotion with each chorus with a forest of synths, beats, and vocal harmonies. Her position as the sole curator of the soundtrack to The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part One allowed Lorde to spill her influence all over the set, and "Yellow Flicker Beat" is the pièce de résistance.



18. "Happy Little Pill" - Troye Sivan

The YouTube community has had its fair share of musical stardom. This year, Troye Sivan jumped from his spot as a YouTube personality to add a music career to his resume. The product? "Happy Little Pill" and the TRXYE extended play. Sivan perfectly encompassing the struggles of today's youth and the fascination with drugs and alcohol as he floats through the song with his smooth tenor range. This is a different side to Troye Sivan that we don't normally see in his YouTube vlogs and videos, but it's definitely a likable façade.


19. "Girls Chase Boys" - Ingrid Michaelson

She may be on her sixth album cycle, but Ingrid Michaelson is now getting more recognition than she ever has before. "Girls Chase Boys" has been a bug in the ear of contemporary pop all year, with its universal message of love for all genders and sexual orientations causing its viral outbreak. A cool melody line and "oh, oh, oh" flutters in its chorus make "Girls Chase Boys" one of the cutest pop songs of the year.



20. "Outside" - Calvin Harris feat. Ellie Goulding

After the success of "I Need Your Love," the dream team of Calvin Harris and Ellie Goulding has reunited for this year's "Outside," another successful outing for the duo. This new track opens with a sound that is quite similar to the Harris' handiwork on ex-girlfriend Rita Ora's "I Will Never Let You Down," but later expands to a booming electronic-dance track that screams influences from earlier tracks such as "Sweet Nothing." Meanwhile, Goulding delivers a great product as she spits out, "There’s a power in what you do / Now, every other day I’ll be watching you / Show you what it feels like, now I’m on the outside / We did everything right, now I’m on the outside."

Friday, November 21, 2014

Reclassified | Iggy Azalea


★★★★☆

Album repacks are nothing new in today's industry, and Australian rapper Iggy Azalea wasted no time to make one final release to affirm her stance as one of the biggest stars of 2014. As she quickly went from rags to riches this year with three massive radio hits under her belt thus far, Azalea clearly began to prepare methods to repeal the "No money, no family, sixteen in the middle of Miami" stance of her debut album. Her solution takes physical form in Reclassified, a twelve track release containing seven of her best cuts from her debut album, The New Classic, as well as five new tracks from a reinvigorated Azalea and her new collaborators.

While The New Classic allowed I-G-G-Y to contrast her success and her roots, the five new tracks included on Reclassified tout Iggy Azalea for all that she is worth. In the opening track of the album, "We in This Bitch," Azalea proclaims, "Now let's reflect where we left on New Classic / I overstepped what was expected, blew past it" to switch viewpoints from one set to the other. A promo single for the repack, "IGGY SZN," concretes Azalea's new lyrical aim: she is the ruling female presence of mainstream rap and wants to keep it that way. With her closest contemporaries releasing albums late in the year (Azealia Banks' Broke with Expensive Taste and Nicki Minaj's The Pinkprint), Azalea was left to take control of the female rap game recently: "Everywhere I go they say it’s Iggy season / 'Til I get what I want, baby I ain’t leaving."

Azalea's biggest hits to date, "Fancy" and "Black Widow," are both included on this set, but the winning formulas of both are united for "Beg for It." The track, which combines a similar beat from "Widow" and a bratty Charli XCX-penned hook à la "Fancy," features Danish singer-songwriter MØ, who infamously crashed Azalea's Saturday Night Live performance with faulty lip-syncing. British songbird Ellie Goulding is called in for assistance on "Heavy Crown," in which the two divas claim, "This heavy crown, it comes and goes around / And when it's time, I'll pass it proud / But bitch I got it now." Instrumentally, we see small nods to M.I.A.'s chaotic production meeting trap synths, with Goulding's choruses acting as a slowdown from the robust verses. In a Radio.com interview, Azalea rightfully described the collaboration as a newfound "aggressive" side of Goulding while offering a change of pace for both artists. A new sonic direction is also taken on "Trouble," Azalea's second collaboration with Jennifer Hudson. The duo bows away from trap and electronic influences to pull Azalea into J. Hud's comfortable soul territory.

In all, Reclassified only offers five new tracks, which seems a bit too small by comparison to other repacks. While a small amount of new material would normally deem a repack unjustifiable, the format used for this release is ingenious. By only including select highlights from the original album and then blending some new cuts into the mix, Iggy Azalea and her team may have just Reclassified what an album repack should entail. For those who never purchased the entirety of The New Classic should highly consider checking out its condensed essentials-only companion; anything that lugged the original album down to a three-out-of-five star set has been removed and replaced with tracks that are more worthwhile. Good thing we already put her name in bold, because she's going to be around for longer than just a season.

Reclassified will be released on November 24, 2014 under Virgin EMI Records.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Playlist: November 2014


"Outside"
Calvin Harris feat. Ellie Goulding

The dream team is back together. After a successful pairing on "I Need Your Love," Calvin Harris and Ellie Goulding have teamed up again for a track on Harris' fourth studio album, Motion (out November 4). This new track, titled "Outside," opens with a sound that is quite similar to the Harris' handiwork on ex-girlfriend Rita Ora's "I Will Never Let You Down," but later expands to a booming electronic-dance track that screams influences from earlier tracks such as "Sweet Nothing." Meanwhile, Goulding delivers a great product (per usual) as she spits out, "There’s a power in what you do / Now, every other day I’ll be watching you / Show you what it feels like, now I’m on the outside / We did everything right, now I’m on the outside."



"Baby Don't Lie"
Gwen Stefani

We all found our hearts melting when both Fergie and Gwen Stefani both announced planned comebacks as solo artists as they step out on their own again without The Black Eyed Peas and No Doubt, respectively. Both artists encountered massive success during their debut solo album cycles in the mid-2000s, but haven't released any solo work in the 2010s until now. When Fergie debuted "L.A.LOVE (la la)" with the relatively disappointing results, I personally was counting on Gwen Stefani to deliver. Luckily, she did just that. "Baby Don't Lie" seems like Stefani's sassy take on Coldplay and Rihanna's "Princess of China" and is driven on heavy drums and a winding synth run. The song has been run through the mud by fans who just want "Hollaback Girl" 2.0 and claim she ripped off a random SoundCloud user, but I'm still rooting for Stefani.


"Froot"
Marina and the Diamonds

After killing off her Electra Heart persona last year, Marina Diamandis is back... as herself this time, on her new track "Froot." Billboard's Ryan Reed hit the nail on the head while describing this song: it is a "sonically fresh but lyrically stale" pop song. The lyrics of "Froot" are, for the most part, just as cringe-worthy as the spelling of "fruit" in the title. The most glaring examples include "Hanging like a fruit, ready to be juiced, juiced, juiced" and "Oh my branches are heavy / Yeah they're heavy, yeah they're heavy," as Diamandis rails through the song with multiple vocal tones and vowel shapes. However, ignore the lyrics, and a killer retro jam with an irresistible chorus prevails; even the lyrical handiwork improves as she sings, "Living la dolce vita / Life couldn't get much sweeter / Don't you give me a reason / That it's not the right season."



"You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile"
Sia

Usually, modern day franchise re-boots give no justice to their respective classic counterparts, but when the makers of the upcoming Annie remake added one of today's best vocalists to the mix, they made the outlook just a bit better. Sia Furler was enlisted for three tracks on the new Annie soundtrack, the first of which was just released last month. In her take on "You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile," Sia steps away from her own haunting 1000 Forms of Fear album concept and shows us a much brighter side of herself - perhaps the happiest we've heard since "Clap Your Hands." When in need of a pick-me-up and a great sing-along track, this should be a go-to song.



"IGGY SZN"
Iggy Azalea

Iggy Azalea knows that she's currently one of the biggest names in the rap game, and she's not afraid to brag. Towards the end of last month, Azalea released "IGGY SZN" the first promo single to her upcoming re-release, Reclassified, which will include the most popular cuts from her debut album, The New Classic, as well as a few new tracks with collaborators like MØ, Jennifer Hudson, and Ellie Goulding. On "IGGY SZN" (pronounced: "Iggy Season"), Azalea raps all about her newfound status as a star over a fresh beat. "Simmer down, bitch / It's Iggy season / I ain't worried about shit / It's Iggy season / Bad bitches scream, 'yas' / It's Iggy season," proclaims Azalea, exuding just as much confidence as we heard in "Work" and "Fancy." If you have a problem with Iggy Azalea, just remember that what you make in a year, she can make in a week.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Playlist: May 2014

"Fancy" | Iggy Azalea feat. Charli XCX
What a great jam... The lyrics are on-point from the start, as Azalea spits out "First thing's first, I'm the realest / Drop this and let the whole world feel it." Charli XCX comes in a gleaming Gwen Stefani style as she sings the chorus: "I'm so fancy / You already know / I'm in the fast lane / From L.A. to Tokyo." The looped trap beat is stripped back a bit to allow Azalea and Charli's voices to shine a bit but that doesn't kill the song at all.



"West Coast" | Lana Del Rey
This song is perfect for the upcoming summer months. A seductive, sultry rock sound oozes from this song, while Del Rey whisks her way through the airy vocals: "I can see my baby swingin' / His Parliament's on fire and his hands are up / On the balcony and I'm singing / Ooh baby, ooh baby, I'm in love." Thanks to producer Dan Auerbach's help, this song is like a perfected version of what Lana Del Rey's pre-Born To Die material sounds like.



"Y.A.L.A." | M.I.A.
M.I.A. outdid all of her previous album with Matangi, and "Y.A.L.A." has to be one of the most infection beats of the past year. In this song, the popular phrase "Y.O.L.O." was contorted into a Hindu re-incarnation bit and placed over a killer club beat. The breakdown barrels down the listener after M.I.A. proclaims, "Alarms go off as I enter the building." Everything about this track is aimed for the jugular of the club scene and I absolutely love it.



"Ain't It Fun" | Paramore
After the moderate success of their pop radio-friendly "Still Into You," Paramore has decided to follow-up with "Ain't It Fun," a fun, disorganized alternative rock song about growing up, being an adult, and loneliness. Let's not forget the little breakdown, in which a choir sings behind front woman Hayley Williams: "Don't go crying to your mama 'cause you're on your own in the real world." It's obviously not the most complex song ever, but it's catchy.



"Hollaback Girl" | Gwen Stefani
This month's throwback goes back to 2005, the year that "Hollaback Girl" fired its way across the globe. The lyrical content of this song is so stupid, but overall it's such a bad ass bit that nobody cares. Gwen Stefani was, and still is, the bad girl on the block, which she makes concrete in this song as she tracks down the girl that was talking shit about her. And just a quick post-script: This shit is still bananas after all these years. B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Problem | Ariana Grande feat. Iggy Azalea



★★★★☆

After a squeaky clean Nickelodeon image and a rather peaceful debut album, Ariana Grande is coming back kicking with a new edgy look and sound in "Problem."

Looking sexy and sassy on the cover, Grande still hasn't lost any of that golden voice in transition to a horn-filled bop of a track as she belts out, "Head in the clouds, got no weight on my shoulders / I should be wiser and realise that I've got..." in the pre-chorus. The horns follow the recent trend of Top 40 songs like "Thrift Shop" and "Talk Dirty," while the song also incorporates a quiet breakdown featuring whispers of "I've got one last problem without 'cha." 

The inclusion of Iggy Azalea only fuels the greatness of the track. The production style compliments both Grande and Azalea so well, but also follows the popular trends that audiences are attracted to at this time; if it doesn't peak in the top five of the Billboard Hot 100, I'd be shocked.

"Problem" is out now under Republic Records and can be bought on iTunes and other digital download retailers.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The New Classic | Iggy Azalea


★★★☆☆

Prince, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, The Beatles... All of these names in music are what we would call "classics." However, Australian native Iggy Azalea is working to one day be placed on this list with her debut studio album, The New Classic.

The album opens on a high note with "Walk The Line." The song's lyrics cover Azalea's move from Australia to America as a teenager: "Not where I want to be, but I'm far from home / Just trying to make it on my own / [...] / Ain't no going back now / It's just the line that I walk alone." (Her flow in the second verse is absolutely beautiful, by the way.)

After proclaiming that she walks solo, Azalea proclaims her independence once again in the sultry, dark "I Don't Y'all." In the chorus her voice has been processed through a vocoder as she raps, "Try to knock me down but I'm strong / Did all of this on my own / Ain't got no time for no new friends / So for now just leave me alone / I don't need ya'll anyway." The next track, "100," is a very bare-bones trap track and Azalea's flow top-notch, but the featured artist on the track annoys me as he wails "one-hunned" in a slurred vocal effort. Learn how to talk, please.

Azalea does some minor singing in "Change Your Life," as she does the vocal work for the chorus, but it's more like a sing-rap style in a Ke$ha-esque manner. It's a catchy song, though, minus T.I.'s verse. (There is a solo version out there, and I'm determined to find it.) The production in this song is killer; I'm surprised radio stations here in the United States haven't spun this song because of the production.

The fifth track on the album, "Fancy" was the fourth and final single to be released from The New Classic before the album even dropped, and managed to continue Azalea's success in the United Kingdom. The song features Charli XCX in the chorus, while Azalea does her thing through the verses. She first takes it slow with "First things first, I'm the realest / Drop this and let the whole world feel it" before completely tearing it up on the lines "Better get my money on time, if they not money, decline / And swear I meant that there so much that they give that line a rewind."

Stuck between two of the biggest hits from the album, "New Bitch" is a synthpop power ballad meets rap hit. In the song, a girl is explicitly told that her man now has a new girlfriend that goes by the name Iggy Azalea. The song is relatively forgettable, but I guess it helps fill the album.

"Work" was released as the lead single from The New Classic... an entire year before the album's release. It holds a very light trap sound, mainly emphasizing Azalea's voice and the lyrics covering Azalea's struggles as a teen. "You don't know the half / This shit get real / Valley girls giving blow jobs for Louboutins / What do you call that? / Head over heels / No money, no family. Sixteen in the middle of Miami," raps Azalea, leaving room for that oral sex pun in between the seriousness of her scenario (she left her Australian family at age sixteen to live in America, first settling in Miami, Florida).

"Impossible is Nothing" is a quick stab at a inspirational pick-me-up as Azalea raps, "Keep on living, keep on breathing / Even when you don't believe it / Keep on climbing, keep on reaching / Even when this world can't see it / No, impossible is nothing." The self-empowerment theme carries over to the loud, electric guitar and steel drum infused "Goddess," or at least the self-empowerment of Azalea's ego: "Make enough in ten months / I could live off of or retire / But I just won’t quit / [...] / Bow down to a goddess."

One of the most buzzed-about songs off the album by far is "Black Widow," which features the vocals of Rita Ora and was co-written by Azalea and Katy Perry. This song is legitimately "Dark Horse" 2.0 with a rapper that's actually half-way talented. Meanwhile, trap meets reggae in "Lady Patra" as Azalea revisits the "here I am so pay attention to me" theme from "Goddess." The song also features artist Mavado, who has a heavy native Jamaican accent to tie into the reggae feel of the song.

For the normal track listing, "Fuck Love" brings up the caboose of The New Classic, which pretty much sums up the entire album. In the song, she sings, "Fuck love, give me diamonds / I'm already in love with myself." Self-centered, worldly, independent; there's The New Classic in a nutshell. I'm not complaining though, because I feel like those are adjectives I would use to describe myself.

The deluxe edition of The New Classic brings about three tracks, the first being "Bounce." The song oozes Middle Eastern and Indian influences and has a great club-friendly vibe. In the synth-heavy "Rolex," Azalea compares a broken relationship to a fake Rolex watch: "Rolexes don't tick-tock / But damn it baby, my time costs / And damn it baby, my time is money / So I need pay back for all the time lost." Finally, the deluxe version of the album comes to a close with "Just Askin'," which is just a cutesy little pop-inspired bit.

In short, Iggy Azalea is doing what M.I.A. has already done and what Nicki Minaj just thinks she is doing: making her own page in female-fronted electronic hip hop music. Overall, the album came off to me as lukewarm, although many of the lyrics were outstanding, especially those that cover Azalea's travel to the United States and starting with not a nickel to her name. I must stress, for a debut album, this is better than most and there are some songs on this album that may just become The New Classic.

The New Classic is due out Tuesday, April 22, 2014 via Virgin EMI and Island Def Jam.

© Aural Fixation
Maira Gall