It’s a whole new ‘World’
LEAVE it to 16-year-old Justin Bieber, whose innocent charm sets tween girls to riot at shopping malls, to distill the same kind of 80-proof puppy-love R&B that made the careers of Michael Jackson, Usher and Justin Timberlake.
Last fall, kids gobbled up Bieber’s “My World” EP, and now he’s back with “My World 2.0″ — a full-length sequel of all-new confections. The lead single, “Baby,” is a ’60s-style soul ballad about heartbreak with your first love. It’s a solid song that gets a major boost when Ludacris weaves a few rhymes into the tune about his first love when he was a 13-year-old candy rapper.
Those older than 13 will realize many of the 10 tracks cover the same subject with a different title, but anyone will recognize that this kid has a fine voice that recalls a young Donny Hathaway. He’s able to reach the high notes without sounding girly.
Other standout songs are “U Smile,” with a great soul vibe, and “Runaway love,” performed with unexpected R&B swagger. no doubt the kids are going to love this record, but adults beware: There’s sap here, too. The worst is an insipid “Eenie Meenie” performed with Sean Kingston that updates the old nursery rhyme with “Catch a bad chick by her toe.” Ouch.
THE BIRD AND THE BEE
“Interpreting the Masters, Volume 1: a Tribute to Daryl Hall and
THE title might make you wonder if the Bird and the Bee are loving Hall & Oates or poking fun at the ’70s pop icons. after a few spins it’s clear, by this record’s attention to detail and how true to the covers are to the original songs, that this really is a labor of love.
The Los Angeles duo — consisting of Inara George (the Bird) and Greg Kurstin (the Bee) — do little to H&O’s R&B other than put George’s female vocals into the lead. Inara, daughter of the late little Feat founder Lowell George, has a gentle midrange voice that’s a nice fit, especially on the sway ballad “Sara Smile” and the peppy “Kiss on my List.”
The record does falter on the opening track, “Heard It on the Radio,” the Bird and the Bee’s lone original on this disc that tries to emulate the masters. being Hall & Oates is harder than it sounds.
SHE & HIM
THERE are no rough edges to this record, no dark corners where love and bad luck hold hands. Instead, “Volume Two” by she (actress Zooey Deschanel) and him (alt-rocker M. Ward) is a folk-twinged soft-rock collection that’s as easy on the ear as Deschanel is on the eye. This is her second collaboration with Ward, a continuation of their past work (“Volume One”) branded with romantic lyrics and catchy melodies that seem to demand that you sing along.
Ward plays in a jangly acoustic style that never overpowers Deschanel’s willowy voice. The country-flavored ballad “Thieves,” which serves as the disc’s opener, is the standout on a record that’s so light and breezy it could only be released in spring.
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