Marketed and distributed by EMI Music SA

When it comes to pop controversy, Katy Perry is right up there with the best – especially in 2008. Her hit debut album, One Of The Boys, knocks men in just about every imaginable way…and it’s great! It’s a mix of radio-friendly pop tracks and edgier, angst-filled rock tunes, all combining into an album that grows on you with every listen. On the pop side, I Kissed A Girl is probably the most obvious hit, while second single Hot ‘n Cold adds a little more dance to the mix. I also loved Waking Up In Vegas, If You Can Afford Me and Self Inflicted. On the edgier side of things, Ur So Gay provides some more controversy. Written about a boyfriend who should’ve been gay, that song, as well as I Kissed A Girl, have been called homophobic and misandric by columnists and activists alike. MSNBC contributor Tony Sclafani wrote that “the litmus test of hypocrisy [here] is that if you substituted a different minority in Perry’s tunes, they’d never get airplay. ‘I Kissed a Black Guy’ or ‘Ur So Korean’ would not be Top 40. For that matter, a song called ‘I Kissed a Boy’, sung by a male, would probably die on the vine”. However, seen in the tongue-in-cheek way they were intended, the songs are highly entertaining. Also on the edgy side, the gorgeous I’m Still Breathing, written by Dave Stewart of Eurythmics-fame, stands out. One Of The Boys is a highly enjoyable album with highs aplenty. It’s definitely on my list of favourites for the year.


Marketed and distributed by Universal Music SA

On his third studio album, Something Else, Robin Thicke again manages to present an album that’s balanced somewhere between funky, dance-infused R&B and superbly sexy and utterly seductive ballads. The album opens with the latter, a delicious song called You’re My Baby. This sexy, seductive feel continues on tracks like Ms. Harmony, Loverman, The Sweetest Love and the gorgeously retro Dreamworld. When it comes to upbeat material, first single Magic is right up there – it instantly makes you want to dance! The feet-tapping continues on Sidestep, the brilliant Something Else and Shadow of Doubt. Describing Robin Thicke’s style is not easy, but think of him as an old-school Justin Timberlake, with more sex appeal and much more soul. Locally, Robin’s previous album, The Evolution of Robin Thicke, only produced a few hits, but became popular amongst a select few nonetheless. Globally, it was a huge success; a feat Something Else is bound to repeat. His sound is not mainstream but there’s an appealing quality to it that secures a pop cross-over. Robin Thicke has certainly arrived, in every way.


Marketed and distributed by Universal Music SA

Deriving her stage name from the 1985 movie starring Rutger Hauer and Michelle Pffeifer, Phillipa Brown – or Ladyhawke – hails from New Zealand, where she was a member of two bands before going solo with her fantastic style of new wave electropop. Her self-titled debut album is a magnificent collection of funky, memorable songs that will leave you smiling for hours on end. The first single, Paris Is Burning, is a catchy electro masterpiece with brilliant sampling of Gary Numan’s 1979 hit, Cars (which was also brilliantly sampled by dance guru Armand van Helden on Koochy). Also well worth a listen is Magic, Manipulating Woman and My Delirium, while Professional Suicide and Dusk Till Dawn also stands out with its eighties feel. When it comes to slower, more melodic fare, Ladyhawke surprises with the gorgeous Crazy World. I am generally not a fan of electro-anything, but Ladyhawke manages to fuse electronic beats and sounds with pop in a way that makes it easily digestible to those of us leaning more towards straightforward pop music. Ladyhawke is well worth exploring and I’m positive that we’ll be hearing lots more from her in the near future.


Marketed and distributed by Universal Music SA

It’s very difficult not to have preconceptions when it comes to certain music. Miley Cyrus provides a perfect example: she’s the 15-year old daughter of Achy Breaky Heart-singer Billy Ray Cyrus and the star of Disney’s Hanna Montana. Enough said, right? Wrong. Miley Cyrus’ debut album, Breakout, is possibly the surprise of the year. I assumed it would be another bubblegum-pop offering, but it took only one listen to realise that this is one seriously talented girl. Breakout is a hotchpotch of styles and sounds that miraculously comes together in one cohesive body of work. It’s driven by the first two radio singles, See You Again and 7 Things, which provides a fairly accurate impression of what’s to come. However, it gets better. The title-track is a fun song that grows on you with each listen, while her reinterpretation of Cyndi Lauper’s Girls Just Wanna Have Fun is positively smile-inducing. The highlights however lie in The Driveway and Full Circle, two songs so mature that they almost seem out of place, a fusion of Pink, Avril Lavigne and recent Hillary Duff. Except for one song (Wake Up America), Breakout is entirely listenable and totally enjoyable. Miley Cyrus is a singer to watch, not only because of her unofficial underwear-model boyfriend, Justin Gaston. She’s bound to take this career very far.


Marketed and distributed by Universal Music SA

When the Pussycat Dolls released Dontcha late in 2005, I must admit that I was one of many people who believed they were a one-hit wonder. Yet the hits kept on coming, to such an extent that I was soon converted. Much was the excitement then when I heard When I Grow Up, the first single off their new album, Doll Domination. It’s a highly infectious song with hard to forget lyrics and a killer beat courtesy of Rodney Jerkins, the man that put Whitney Houston back on the map with her My Love Is Your Love album. With a total of 18 tracks, Doll Domination seems to offer more than usual. Unfortunately, the remainder of Doll Domination failed to convince me. The girls have gone too far in the hip-hop direction in terms of beats and guest vocals. Nicole Scherzinger’s vocals remain commendable, but it’s often ruined by average lyrics and annoying raps. Interestingly enough the album features numerous ballads, something that wasn’t too common on PCD. Thankfully none feature rappers, and a different side to the Dolls are exposed. If it weren’t for above-average songs like I Hate This Part and Happily Ever After, Doll Domination would’ve been a major disappointment. Instead it’s merely an average follow-up from a group capable of much more.


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