Marketed and distributed by Universal Music SA

With great hype comes great expectations, and that’s exactly what I had when Lady GaGa’s debut album, The Fame, arrived. She stormed onto the international music scene last year with Just Dance, but I wasn’t entirely convinced. Sure, it was a catchy song about a drunken night out, but it wasn’t that special. Fortunately, the same cannot be said for Poker Face. With a beat that moves you from the inside out, catchy lyrics and killer sampling, this is the song that should’ve put Lady Gaga on the map. As for The Fame, it doesn’t disappoint. In fact, Lady GaGa has taken a recipe formulated by Gwen Stefani and improved it to such an extent that it’ll take some real brains for Gwen to catch up. Of the 15 tracks, there’s really only one weak song – Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say) – and GaGa should in future best stay away from ballady type love songs that sound like Vengaboys at their worst. The title track is fun though, while Love Game is just plain wacky (but in a brilliant way). Other stand out tracks include Paper Gangsta with its almost robotic beat and melody, and Boys Boys Boys, which is just a fantastic summer song. In a world where new singers are a dime a dozen, it’s rare for an album surrounded by immense hype to deliver the goods. With The Fame, Lady GaGa has done just that!


Marketed and distributed by Universal Music SA

The Killers returned to the world of music late in 2008 with Day & Age, the follow-up to the almost-impressive Sam’s Town. Human, the first single, is a delightful electronica-speckled tune that is fresh without veering too far off the band’s beaten track. It may not have the emotional weight of When You Were Young, but should feel and sound meatier in a live setting. Joyride is a fun track with a twisted carnival-feel to it, while I Can’t Say’s island-beat belies a deeper, more contemplative subject. Spaceman is a sure-fire hit that blends a slight pop sensibility with authentic Killers-style rock, while This Is Your Life takes us to the other side of the spectrum with its slower, almost ballad-like melody and tempo. Neon Tiger is a perfect example of old and new coming together, blending the often quirkiness of the band’s old sound with the coherence of the new. While The Killers have had more than a handful of memorable hits, Day & Age is the first album I have been able to enjoy in its entirety. I would ascribe this mainly to its catchy lyrics and memorable melodies, but it goes deeper than such superficialities: It’s considerably more cohesive than their previous work, which speaks of a certain growth in musical maturity.


Marketed and distributed by Universal Music SA

Literally translated, Folie À Deux means a madness shared by two, in which a symptom of psychosis, particularly a paranoid or delusional belief is transmitted from one individual to another. Considering the almost manic energy Fall Out Boy sends out with their music, it’s quite an apt title for the band’s fifth studio album. First single, I Don’t Care, is a tour de force for the band, with catchy lyrics that leave you singing long after the song has ended. Second single, America’s Suitehearts, takes it a step forward, masterfully blending with She’s My Winona, Headfirst Into Cooperstown On A Bad Bet, (Coffee’s for Closers) and The (Shipped) Gold Standard, which should be a surefire hit once it reaches radio. Fall Out Boy is one of the decade’s best rock bands. The relationship between Patrick Stump’s voice and music and Pete Wentz’s lyrics is indeed a folie à deux, albeit in a positive and creative way; creating songs that are not only catchy, but also clever and highly memorable. The music has a longevity to it that is rare in the hit-and-run culture that has overcome modern music, and their breakthrough album from 2005 still sounds as fresh as this fifth offering. Folie À Deux, however, is more cohesive, showcasing the band’s growth as musicians and individuals. It’s Fall Out Boy’s best work yet.


Marketed and distributed by SonyBMG Music Entertainment

While the race is on to find and crown South Africa’s next Idol, I am of the firm belief that American Idol is the only franchise of the global brand that deserves being watched closely. The logic is simple; American Idol has delivered some of the most memorable pop singers of the past decade, including Kelly Clarkson, Fantasia, Daughtry and Jennifer Hudson. I would however also put David Cook, winner of the seventh American Idol series, on the list. With a voice suited to a heavier rock sound, he’s following in Daughtry’s footsteps by breaking the sugary pop mould the original Pop Idol set out to create. His self-titled debut album is a knock-out; fusing pop and rock into a sound that is emotional yet melodic and catchy. He broke several records on the Billboard chart in 2008, most significantly having 11 songs debut on the Hot 100 chart the week after winning American Idol. The album features the winning song, Time Of My Life, along with current single Light On. It is, however, an album that you can listen to from start to finish, with songs like Heroes, Come Back To Me, Mr Sensitive and Permanent providing highlights along the way. Call me unpatriotic, but none of our local Idols, except for Heinz Winckler, have managed to make a truly lasting impression, begging the question of whether we really need another one. Considering what has come out of American Idol, I think not. The American Idols may have more financial backing and technical expertise to support them, but they also have talent. And David Cook has it in abundance.


Marketed and distributed by EMI Music SA

Named after the 1989 hit song by Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, Little Jackie Wants to Be a Star, Imani Coppola and Adam Pallin introduced their unique, funky music to the world late in 2008 with the release of this, their debut album, The Stoop. It’s a refreshing blend of clever, sometimes controversial, sung and spoken lyrics with funky pop melodies. The title track has a laid-back feel, while first single, The World Should Revolve Around Me, is a funky pop song that makes you smile before you can think about it. I also liked the autobiographical 28 Butts (although I am not fond of pop music with direct religious references, regardless of the religion concerned). Other highlights include Cryin’ For The Queen, The Kitchen and I Liked You Better Before. What I particularly enjoyed about the album is that most of the songs are fairly short – three minutes and under – which is just long enough to whet your appetite. Little Jackie is doing pop a little differently, but it works. It’s easy enough to listen to if you’re a pop purist, but interesting enough to dra

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