Dig These Discs :: Rihanna, Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson, Calvin Harris, One Direction
"Take Me Home" (One Direction)
The English-Irish boy band One Direction comprised of Niall Horan (voted the hottest), Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson hit the music scene last year in a big way. After finishing third in British TV’s "The X Factor," they were signed to Simon Cowell’s Syco Records, and dropped their studio debut album, "Up All Night," on which they wooed leagues of young ladies with the anthem of low self-esteem, "What Makes You Beautiful." They sold 12 million albums, and are back now, with "Take Me Home," their new 13-track CD that will come with a 2013 World Tour launching next February. Their first single, "Live While We’re Young," is an unrepentant pop anthem of youth culture, with the band promising to sneak their girl out of the house, saying, "I know we only met but let’s pretend it’s love...tonight let’s get some and live while we’re young." The bouncy "Kiss Me" is pure shopping mall saccharine about showing off your hot girl to your friends, while "Last First Kiss" is a bit more heartfelt, although with the same end goal. "Little Things" is a slow, acoustic guitar-driven love song that has him recounting the little things he loves, from the laugh lines around her eyes to the dimples at the base of her spine. The song shows some maturity and introspection. The ballad "Change My Mind" is another slow love song that the girls will go crazy for, and "Over Again" begs for a fresh start on love. In "Back for You," they promise to return to love, and the boys urge everyone to hit the dance floor in the drum-lead "C’mon, C’mon." The Katy Perry teen pop vibe sings in "Heart Attack," and reminisce about the playing guitar on the beach in the summer of ’09 in the plodding, "Rock Me." The jazzy "I Would" is a love-you-better song, with the One Direction boys spelling out L-O-V-E in what is a commonly-employed method in the album. Too bad most of their fans are too young to spell. In "They Don’t Know About Us," the boys counter the jealousy everyone feels about their real, true love. They end with "Summer Love," singing, "Don’t promise that you’re gonna write, don’t promise that you’ll call, just promise that you won’t forget we had it all/ cause you were mine for the summer, now we know it’s nearly over. Feels like snow in September but I always will remember you were my summer love." While I don’t think One Direction will unseat anyone from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, they provide the bouncy pop tracks that the girls love, and really, isn’t that enough?
"18 Months" (Calvin Harris)
Adam Richard Wiles, a.k.a. Calvin Harris, is a Scottish DJ, singer/songwriter and record producer who has made a name for himself by pairing up with some of the music industry’s most accomplished singers. He has written and produced records for artists including Kesha, Rihanna, Kylie Minogue, and more, and they have repaid the favor by teaming up with him on 10 of this album’s 15 tracks. Harris has an amazing handle on the current fads in electronic rock and dubstep, and this album is a showcase of everything good. Kelis lends her whispery voice to "Bounce," which has a sick drop point midway through. Harris wears his heart on his sleeve in "Feel So Close," with a toe-tapping electronic heartbeat. He wins by including one of his biggest hits, Rihanna’s "We Found Love." He makes the most of audio ’star wipes’ in "We’ll Be Coming Back" featuring Example, and rocks his instrumental electro piece, "Mansion." Harris teams up with Nicky Romero for "Iron," which has a break-beat ’80s feel to it. Ellie Goulding’s unique voice shines through in "I Need Your Love," as Harris builds the electro beats and clap tracks around this artist whose voice is meant for singing love songs, creating a wonderful discordance. Foul-mouthed rapper Tinie Tempah shouts it out British-style in the club track, "Drinking From The Bottle," singing, "If you ain’t high you not on my vibe." And Dizzee Rascal and Dillon Francis spit on the banging rap track "Here 2 China." Florence Welch makes a mountain out of a molehill in the stellar "Sweet Nothing," creating a fabulous song with just a smattering of lyrics and Harris’ pressing keyboards. The R&B juices flow in the funky "School," replete with effects. And Ne-Yo breaks fresh with his smooth vocals in the dance track, "Let’s Go," singing, "It’s all about where you goin’ no matter where you been." "Sounds like laser music," commented a listenerd about "Awooga," the closing track. It’s high time that Harris got the attention he deserves, and this stellar album is just the vehicle to do it.