Two New Albums + Two New Singles = Disappointing Results

Two New Albums + Two New Singles = Disappointing Results

Here are my mixed thoughts on some recent albums and singles that were released this past week
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Well, this past week provided us with another batch of new music releases, and I was anticipating how most of these projects were going to turn out. Sadly, for the most part I ended up being let down by every one of these projects I'm about to cover in this article. Now, these albums and singles weren't all horrendously awful or downright unlistenable per say, as they did contain a decent amount of bright spots on them. However, I felt that as overall albums and songs they were very spotty, disappointing, and forgettable. So, even though I didn't find these projects to be outstanding or mind blowing, here are my thoughts on them, and don't worry it's not all negative. I do have some positives about a couple of them. Plus, it's just my opinion, so don't be too hurt by it.

Albums:

1. Imagine Dragons- Evolve

https://www.directlyrics.com/imagine-dragons-annou...

While I haven't been a huge fan of Imagine Dragons, I found their debut album from 2011 titled Night Visions to be a decent release filled with somewhat catchy and passable pop and pop rock tunes on it. However, I didn't seem to feel the same way about their mediocre at best sophomore release Smoke + Mirrors from 2015 as it contained a handful of cringe-worthy songs like "Gold," "Smoke + Mirrors," "Polaroid," and "Dream." just to name a few, that ended up making the record a huge disappointment to me as a whole. So, with this new album Evolve, I was hoping and thought that the only place that this band could go is up and man was I wrong. If anything, I would dare say that this new album right here is the group's worst project to date with it's constant lows and very few highs.

To get the pain over with first, I'll rip the band-aid off and begin by talking about my dislikes regarding this record. While there were a handful of songs on this thing that I found to be lackluster, there were a few of them that stuck out like a really sour thumb. The first of these being the song titled "Yesterday," which is a piano led track about trying to find out who you really are, regretting decisions you made during your past and to move on from them while looking forward to your future with drums and an electric guitar solo played at the bridge being added as additional instruments throughout the song. The gripes I have with this tune are that lead singer Dan Reynolds gives what might be the worst vocal performance of his career thus far as his delivery makes him sound like he's drunk while singing the verses and chorus in an incredibly sloppy way. In addition, the piano playing sounds very choppy and it seems that the background vocals sung by the other members of the band were trying to go for "Queen-like" background vocals but they end up being extremely annoying and fall flat on their face as a result.

The other song I found to be down right atrocious is the final song on this record titled "Dancing in the Dark" (and no it's not a Bruce Springsteen cover). I would give a short summary of what this song is about, but I really can't due to how insufferable Reynolds' vocals are on this track, along with the boring spacey-like instrumental that includes high hats and bass drums being played throughout. I can't really tell if they added auto-tune to his voice or pitch shifted his vocals, but whatever they did makes his vocal performance sound absolutely horrid and annoying through the entire track. It's almost as if they decided to have C-3PO come in and sing on the song in place of Reynolds. As a result, this has to be one of the worst songs to close out an album that I've heard in quite awhile, that's for sure. While these songs weren't as bad as the two I mentioned previously, other songs that I thought missed the mark were "Walking the Wire" and "Rise Up."

However, despite the decent amount of songs that I found to be complete trash, there were still a few songs on this album that I found to be pretty good or at least listenable. These include the simple but heart-pounding "Thunder" with it's booming drums throughout and catchy guitar solos near the end of the track (and yes I can tolerate the annoying pitch shifted background vocals), the '80s new waveish inspired "I Don't Know Why," which is probably my favorite track on the record as I could see it as a song I would be dancing crazy to on the dance floor with it's glistening synth-lines in the beginning of the song and its infectiously catchy and head bobbing chorus (just listen to that bass solo that comes in during the middle part of the chorus, man what a groove). Lastly, the track "Whatever It Takes" was a standout to me because it was the one song on the album that reminded me of or came close to the original sound that Imagine Dragons incorporated when they first came out. Also, I will say that despite the few spotty songs I mentioned earlier that missed the mark, I thought Reynolds' vocal performances were pretty solid as a whole on this project and he showed how he is still one of the most powerful singers in today's popular music scene. On a side note, I find it hilarious that two of these songs I found to be favorites on the album in "Thunder" and "I Don't Know Why" have actually gotten mixed reactions or have been absolutely panned by fans and critics, but hey what can I say? I like 'em.

Overall, while this album did have a couple of highlights on it, I thought that as a whole it was a big mess that went all over the place with its constant sound changes throughout. Also, I found that Reynolds' gruff, shouty, and powerful voice didn't fit or sounded awkward on almost all of the soft poppy instrumentals that were used on these songs throughout this thing. In the end, I would hope that this album won't kill Imagine Dragons relevance in popular music and make people forget about them, but we shall see.

Favorite tracks: "I Don't Know Why," "Thunder," "Whatever It Takes,"

Least favorites: "Dancing in the Dark," "Yesterday," "Walking the Wire," "Rise Up"

Album rating: 2.5/5

2. DJ Khaled- Grateful

https://genius.com/Dj-khaled-grateful-tracklist-al...

Okay, this review/opinion will not be as in-depth as the one for the Imagine Dragons album because first of all, it's a DJ Khaled album (so nothing exciting for the most part), there are very few things I got out of this album that I would like to address, and pretty much all of the songs on this project were executive produced by a freaking baby! (and by baby I mean Khaled's newborn child Asahd, who is actually pictured on the album's cover if you didn't notice). First off, before I say anything about this project, this particular release was the first one of Khaled's that I ever listened to from beginning to end, and holy crap was it hard to sit through. Now, based on the fact that mostly all of my favorite songs off of this record (which were pretty much all of the singles, besides "To the Max (ft. Drake) which is a lackluster song at best) have been reviewed and discussed by other critics and reviewers, I might just skip right to the things that I disliked about this disaster of an album. However, I will mention the one track on the album that wasn't a single that I did find likable, and that song was "Don't Quit" with Calvin Harris, Travis Scott, and Jeremih. I actually really love the groovy instrumental set to this song and the chorus does get in your head with repeated listens. I know it has gotten stuck in my head over the past few days after listening to this record.

But now as far as the negatives, I guess my first gripe with this album would have to be the time length of this album which ended up being nearly an hour and a half long, or as I like to call it: unnecessary. In regards to what I considered to be the worst songs on this album, these include the opening track "(Intro) I'm So Grateful" which contains a Caribbean/Reggae instrumental that has bongos and wildlife sound effects playing in the background, while Jamaican reggae artist Sizzla sings an absolutely ear-aching and off pitch auto-tuned mess of a chorus that makes me want to clean my ears out with cotton swabs to get it out so I don't remember that I ever heard something as awful as that was, the semi-decent (thanks to it's disco-inspired instrumental and entertaining performance by Chance the Rapper) but repetitive and overall annoying song titled "I Love You So Much" which has Khaled boasting about his newborn son (like I care) and repeating the words "I Love So Much" which seems like for an eternity, a laughable bridge which consists of Chance and a few female background singers singing the ABCs (and that's not a joke), along with a line said by a random contributor at the end of the song that goes "Now where your eyes at?/Where your ears at?/Where your mouth at?/Where your nose at?" (I'm not making that up either, sadly) and a few other songs that were so bad to me that they don't need their own detailed descriptions as their amount of horribleness speak for themselves.

Overall, this album proved to me once and for all why I have always considered DJ Khaled to be only a singles artist (if you even want to call him an artist, I only call him a hype-man) because nearly every song on this record was completely forgettable and generic as hell. So, unless you want to waste an hour and a half of your life (something that I won't ever be able to get back sadly), don't listen to this. Just stick with the singles off of it, nothing else. One thing is for sure about DJ Khaled, if I have to listen to "another one" of his albums in the near future, I'm going to run away and hide from it because they are scary bad.

Favorite tracks: "Shining" (ft. Beyoncé and Jay-Z), "I'm the One" (ft. Justin Bieber, Chance the Rapper, Quavo, and Lil Wayne), "Wild Thoughts" (ft. Rihanna and Bryson Tiller), "Don't Quit" (ft. Calvin Harris, Travis Scott and Jeremih)

Least favorite tracks: "(Intro) I'm So Grateful" (ft. Sizzla), "To the Max" (ft. Drake), "I Love You So Much" (ft. Chance the Rapper), "Down for Life" (ft. PartyNextDoor, Future, Travis Scott, Rick Ross, and Kodak Black), "That Range Rover Came With Steps" (ft. Future and Yo Gotti), "Iced Out My Arms" (ft. Future, Migos, 21 Savage, and T.I.)

Album rating: 2/5

Singles:

1. Fall Out Boy- "Champion"

http://www.altpress.com/news/entry/fall_out_boy_ch...

"If I can live through this/If I can live through this/If I can live through this/I can do anything." This chorus contains just some of the dull and lackluster lyrics that can be found throughout the entirety of this song from the pop (formerly pop punk) sensations, Fall Out Boy. Now, in this song's defense, I will say that it is a bit of an improvement over the band's last single "Young and Menace" with it's opening riff and continuous electric guitar playing throughout, along with some pounding drums from Andy Hurley (which almost made me fall out of my chair while listening to this because I was shocked to hear them using real instruments throughout the whole track). However, the lyrics on this song are by far its biggest weakness, which is a damn shame because one of the things I loved about Fall Out Boy from their past works were the creative, thoughtful, and at times relatable lyrics that they would come up with in their tunes. Nowadays it seems that the band has decided to toss those talents out the window and release these generic pop songs. I know that many fans and critics have said that this song reminds them of the band's hit single "Centuries" from their last album American Beauty/American Psycho, but in my opinion at least that song actually had a lyrical theme of trying to leave this world with a legacy that will make you be remembered for years to come. This dumpster fire of a track on the other hand has no lyrical theme or detailed message behind it.

For example, when Patrick Stump sings the first line of the chorus, "If I can live through this," what exactly are you trying to live through? What mistakes have kept you from being a champion? What are these dreams that you mention at the beginning of the song? None of these questions are answered or described in detail during this track's entire three minutes and twelve second run time. C'mon Fall Out Boy, you can do wayyy better than this! Tell us a story. Be more specific and to the point in your lyrics like you've done before, and being the big fan I am of you guys I know you have, trust me I've heard them all.

Overall, this to me is just another stale and plain pop rock song that will probably serve as a generic sports anthem type of tune at sporting arenas and football stadiums over the next year or so, just like "Centuries" did, and nothing else. Man, I hope the rest of the tracks off this new album Mania coming out in September will be superb, because right now based off of these last two new singles, I'm not convinced whatsoever.

Track rating: 2/5

2. Drake- "Signs"

https://hipradar.net/drake-signs-prod-40/

Okay, can Drake please go away for a few years? Like seriously I'm begging you Drizzy, you need to take a break from music man. Now, the guy can obviously do whatever he wants, but he has released two mediocre near 90 minute projects with Views and More Life, and has been featured on numerous hit singles and songs by other artists all in the past two years, which definitely shows how dedicated he is to his craft, but at the same time with that short span he has used to release new records, the quality of his music deteriorates which leads to it sounding much more stale, generic, and uninteresting. Not to mention that he also does it to make money, money, and more money, in addition with the fact that he always needs to be the center of attention in the music industry, which has gotten really annoying up to this point.

Now. the one type of sounds that Drake has been incorporating into his records for the past couple years has been Caribbean dance hall music which is showcased on his songs "One Dance" (ft. Wizkid and Kyla), "Fake Love," and "Passionfruit," and now this new song titled "Signs" looks to be heading down that same rabbit hole and boy is it hard to listen to all the way through. I swear, after listening to this entire song for a third time, I almost fell asleep, and I'm not joking, because this song was that boring. The reason why is because the song is a typical Drake song where he sings in his insufferable monotone voice about his struggles with trying to get a girl that he is involved with to stay with him by acting like a totally different person from what he usually is when he is around her, along with buying her anything she wants because he simply can't say "no" when she tells him that she wants something and says "please." So basically, what I got from this song was that it is about Drake trying to please a "gold digger" in any way that he can to make her stick around and continue to have "good times" with him. Booorrriiinnnggg!

"Champagne with breakfast while I'm yawning." Couldn't agree more Drake. I was definitely yawning through this snooze-fest single of yours for sure, except it wasn't in the morning while drinking Champagne. It was in the afternoon while I was drinking a Lipton Iced Tea on my living room couch. Unless you're a die-hard fan of Drizzy Drake or need something to help you go to sleep, I would recommend that you stay away from this lackluster disaster. Believe me, I've already forgotten about it and most likely will for as long as I live.

Track rating: 1.5/5



Cover Image Credit: Wallpaper Abyss - Alpha Coders

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I Blame My Dad For My High Expectations

Dad, it's all your fault.
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I always tell my dad that no matter who I date, he's always my number one guy. Sometimes I say it as more of a routine thing. However, the meaning behind it is all too real. For as long as I can remember my dad has been my one true love, and it's going to be hard to find someone who can top him.

My dad loves me when I am difficult. He knows how to keep the perfect distance on the days when I'm in a mood, how to hold me on the days that are tough, and how to stand by me on the days that are good.

He listens to me rant for hours over people, my days at school, or the episode of 'Grey's Anatomy' I watched that night and never once loses interest.

He picks on me about my hair, outfit, shoes, and everything else after spending hours to get ready only to end by telling me, “You look good." And I know he means it.

He holds the door for me, carries my bags for me, and always buys my food. He goes out of his way to make me smile when he sees that I'm upset. He calls me randomly during the day to see how I'm doing and how my day is going and drops everything to answer the phone when I call.

When it comes to other people, my dad has a heart of gold. He will do anything for anyone, even his worst enemy. He will smile at strangers and compliment people he barely knows. He will strike up a conversation with anyone, even if it means going way out of his way, and he will always put himself last.

My dad also knows when to give tough love. He knows how to make me respect him without having to ask for it or enforce it. He knows how to make me want to be a better person just to make him proud. He has molded me into who I am today without ever pushing me too hard. He knew the exact times I needed to be reminded who I was.

Dad, you have my respect, trust, but most of all my heart. You have impacted my life most of all, and for that, I can never repay you. Without you, I wouldn't know what I to look for when I finally begin to search for who I want to spend the rest of my life with, but it might take some time to find someone who measures up to you.

To my future husband, I'm sorry. You have some huge shoes to fill, and most of all, I hope you can cook.

Cover Image Credit: Logan Photography

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The Bantamweights Move Forward After Dillashaw 1 Year Suspension

What Is Next For The Bantamweight Division?

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Shocking news broke last week that former 2-time UFC Bantamweight Champion TJ Dillashaw tested positive it is pretty unclear what is next for the 135-pound division. This was a huge blow to Dillashaw as he announced that the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) found an "Adverse finding" from a test following his bout with UFC Flyweight Champion Henry Cejudo this past January. In a bout that was controversial as Dillashaw lost the fight in 32 seconds via TKO.

Following the announcement TJ who has 16 wins and 4 losses in his career also announced he would be vacating the UFC bantamweight championship as it would not be fair to the rest of the division if he held the title while under suspension. The 33-year-old former champion plans on dealing with this recent test failure accordingly as he announced it on his Instagram. Many were expecting a fight announcement involving a fight between Dillashaw and #1 ranked bantamweight "Magic" Marlon Moraes for the title or a rematch with Cejudo rather than a drug test failure.

With the proclaimed greatest bantamweight ever being suspended for 1 year which was retroactive since the time of the bout with Henry Cejudo in January we will more than likely see a new champion crowned before the end of the summer. Though we do not necessarily know who the challengers will be for the title, Marlon Moraes will more than likely be one of the contenders. Moraes is currently on a 4 fight win streak as he protested for a championship bout in his most recent submission victory over #2 ranked bantamweight Raphael Assuncao.

Potential contender #3 ranked bantamweight the "Funk Master" Aljamain Sterling has been on a tear as he is on a 3 fight win streak as his most recent victory was over Jimmie Riveria via unanimous decision. It would make sense to have a rematch between #1 ranked Marlon Moraes and Sterling for the now vacant UFC Bantamweight title as they a both in the right position to fight for the title. The first time these two fighters met Marlon knocked out Aljamain with a knee in the 1st round.

#4 ranked bantamweight Pedro Munhoz put up a convincing performance at UFC 235 when he knocked out former UFC bantamweight champion #6 ranked Cody Garbrandt in the 1st round which was considered fight of the night. There are a handful of fighters that could possibly fight for the vacant title since T.J. suspension. The only problem is it is kind of unclear who it will be.

Former bantamweight champion #5 ranked fighter and commentator Dominick Cruz recently got injured once again as the injury was to his shoulder. He then announced that he is expected to be out for a year. There is not a guarantee when Dominick will be back as he cannot shake off the injuries. Top prospect undefeated "Suga" Sean O'Malley is expected to return from suspension very soon as his suspension will be up at the end of the month. It will be interesting to see where he will fit into the division with T.J. Dillashaw's absence.

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