Songs of the Week: The Full Monty

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First of all, I want to mention the fact that I haven’t posted anything in a while. If you were sitting around waiting for something, I am sorry but I have been busy with certain things. But don’t worry, I’m still here! And I’m back for another post!! The thing is,  you never really know what life’s going to throw at you, and lately it’s been a busy few months! I do realize it’s been a while, you’re just gonna have to bare with me sometimes, because I do always want to post things it’s just that sometimes I get caught up in other stuff and I don’t always have the time. With that being said, let’s just jump right in to this post!!

Songs of the Week!!! It’s been a good while since I’ve done one of these posts. I know this is mainly a blog for movies but I do like to incorporate music into posts every now and then. Now, usually Songs of the Week includes a list of songs and I discuss each one and why I think each one is a good song for the week, but with this week since it is Saturday and it’s the weekend, I wanted to change it up. So I thought I would list albums instead of songs this time around. Thinking about it, it’s always been funny that I post these lists with just single songs because I do tend to focus more on full albums and what’s in store there. I do really think in the time we live the art of the full album is a little lost (not completely, but it’s fading), which is a shame because, for the most part, it seems that these artists want their whole body of work shown and not just one song.

A great example would be Beyonce’s self titled album released in 2013. Releasing that all at once, without any promotion or any singles, really brought together the album as a whole (which is still fantastic today), and showed that she wanted people to look at the project as a piece, a visual experience (along with the videos for each song). And that’s how I wanted to look at the albums on my list today. I wanted to review them in a fashion where I look at the entirety of it, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do! So here are my 5 albums of the week that I think you should give a try if you have a little time on your hands.

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5. Mind of Mine by ZAYN

We’ll kick everything off with the newest solo career on the block. As many probably know at this point, Zayn Malik was previously a member of One Direction, a british pop band with a VERY big fan base. I can remember the crying faces all over the internet when it was announced that he was leaving. At first I found it ridiculous but then I remembered back in the day when Justin Timberlake decided to leave *NSYNC, it was big, maybe not as big as this, but still big. The point is, Zayn was leaving the band no matter what, and some time later he decided to release a single by the name of PILLOWTALK. I never really had any feelings about One Direction, I never thought about them, they weren’t a part of my daily life. But I was intrigued to see what this solo career would be like, so I sat down and listened to the single and to my surprise, I really enjoyed it. It’s a fun little pop jam that can easily get stuck in your head. So, to my surprise, I started to get kind of excited about the upcoming album, which would eventually revealed was going to be called Mind of Mine. Finally, on March 25, the album was released, what did I think of it? It’s nice! I never really expected a life changing or grammy winning album so my expectations weren’t through the roof or anything. There were definitely a batch of tracks that were better than others with songs like sHe, BeFoUr, wRoNg, and TiO. Side note, if you don’t understand why the song titles look like something out of a 4th grade diary entry, neither do I. The weakest moments probably come from the ballads, songs like iT’s YoU or BLUE are nice but they don’t seem to really flow with the rest of the album, especially when you compare the first half to the second half of the album. In the end, I thought Mind of Mine was a nice album, not amazing, but enjoyable, so I would check it out if you’re in the mood for a pop album with a little bit of an r&b flare in there.

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4. How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful by Florence + The Machine

Unlike Zayn, I’ve been a pretty big fan of Florence + The Machine for a while now. Ever since their debut album, Lungs, I’ve been following them. Not only is Florence Welch’s voice a refreshingly unique instrument in this band but it’s also a beautiful thing to listen to. When the first single for this album, What Kind of Man (amazing), was released I immediately was pumped for what was to come next. Ceremonials was released in 2011, so I had been waiting for some time, and luckily I wasn’t dissapointed. If Ceremonials had a big broad sound that felt like you could hear from miles away, How Big is somewhat of the opposite. While it does still have a grand feeling to some of the songs (especially with Queen of Peace and Delilah), it definitely has a more indie rock feel, while still feeling like a Florence record. There’s really only maybe 2 or 3 songs I didn’t like, and a good example would be Various Storms & Saints. While I didn’t hate it, I just thought it was a little slow for where it was placed in the album and it didn’t add a whole lot, it didn’t really need to be there. But the positives do beat out the negatives, songs like Ship to Wreck and Caught bring this album to life and give it a feeling that only Florence could bring you. I really really enjoy this album and I think you guys should check it out for a nice indie feel that will make you feel some things.

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3. ANTI by Rihanna

It’s still kind of surprising for me to put this on this list because to me Rihanna has always been the artist that releases a lot of singles but her albums are never the best part of her work. An album of hers that is very guilty of that is Loud from 2011, it felt more like a compilation of singles than an actual album. So I was kind of skeptical going into this, but I was pleasantly surprised. It’s been 5 years or so since her last album Unapologetic, which wasn’t bad but it wasn’t my favorite, it still had a very dance-y and top 100 feel to it. But ANTI took a complete 18o with genre and atmosphere and took a more r&b route. At first, I didn’t really know what to think. I couldn’t stand Work the first time around, but now I understand it, it’s a fun tropical song that’s fun to dance to, and that’s what it’s meant to be, and now I love it. I do think that this is Rihanna’s best full length album to date, for me. It feels the most complete, and like there’s an actual theme. My favorites have to be the 2 back to back hits, Needed Me and Yeah, I Said It, they work so well going off each other and add an atmospheric feel to the album that I really didn’t expect. If you’re not sure about this album because the only song you’ve heard is Work and you can’t stand that song, I encourage you to check out the rest of the songs, because it’s a dirty, badass album that really is an interesting listen.

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 2. What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye

I’ll just put it out there, I think this might be the best soul record to have been released, and I’m not just saying that because I love Marvin Gaye. While some consider 1973’s Let’s Get It On the standout Gaye record (was definitely the most popular of the two), I think this album is something completely on it’s own, it’s an experience. As much as I love Let’s Get It On and what it brings to the table I definitely find myself listening to this album on repeat more often. Not only is the production on this album outstanding but the writing and Marvin’s voice make for an enjoyable and impactful listen. Even though I do love every aspect of this album I think some of my favorites would have to be the title track, Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology), and Right On. So if you’re in the mood for a comforting soulful album I’d say that What’s Going On is for you.

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1. This Is What the Truth Feels Like by Gwen Stefani

The road to this album seemed like it was never going to come to a stop. Stefani’s last solo record, The Sweet Escape (which was alright, but nowhere near as interesting or funky as Love, Angel, Music, Baby), was released in 2006, so fast forward to 2014 when she releases her first single, Baby Don’t Lie, which seemed like the first song she had released in ages, which it kind of was! There was one other single released around the same time, both the songs were alright but felt very cookie cutter for Gwen, felt expected, I wasn’t all that impressed. So fast forward even MORE to late 2015 where Used To Love You is released, which was clearly fueled by the very public divorce that was happening in her personal life. Did I like that single? At first I wasn’t really sure, but then again I’m never really sure with singles, I like to have the feel of a whole album, hence this post. Eventually in 2016, there were a few more singles released (Make Me Like You, Misery), and I was happy but was just ready for the whole album. When it came to the day of it actually being released I was happy with what I got. This Is What the Truth Feels Like could possibly be my favorite album by Stefani. I do really enjoy Love, Angel, Music, Baby for all it’s wackiness and fun but I feel like this album has a little more depth and emotion to it.

What really took me for a loop was the fact that this album is half love songs and half break up songs. From the release of the first single and really what had been going on in general, I expected an angry break up/divorce album, but since that time of course the also public relationship of her and Blake Shelton has happened. I found it really refreshing to have both parts of a relationship in this album. Another thing I love is just how breezy this album is. Maybe one of the best album to blast in your car. Favorites of mine have to be Send Me a Picture, the odd but captivating Red Flag, You’re My Favorite and Rocket Ship (which is one of a few great bonus tracks that are only included in the Target deluxe edition which I think you should definitely check out if you get a chance, they’re worth the extra money). This album just makes me really happy when I listen to it and I think it’s something that’s great to listen to if you’re feeling down or just need a booster, and I think that’s why it deserves the #1 spot, it’s definitely one of my favorite albums from 2016 so far.

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