Monday, August 3, 2009

THE GIRLS OF SUMMER


I'm all for more confessions on a dancefloor from Madonna, but is it me or does "Celebration," the new single from her upcoming third greatest hits album (out September 29 in the US), sound like it was written and recorded in 1995? It's better than that dreadful new Whitney ballad, but not exactly history in the making.

I'll take Shakira's astonishingly Kylie-esque "She Wolf" (from her like-titled third English-language album, due October 5) over "Celebration" any day, but part of me wonders if I'd like it so much if my first listen hadn't been while watching the video, in which a miraculously limber Shakira makes like her song's titular character. The friends I was out with last night prefer the Spanish version, "Loba," and I have to agree (decide for yourself: watch the subtitled video below). Like Gloria Estefan, Shakira has always sounded better singing in her native tongue, and to these ears, "La Tortura" remains her crowning achievement.

Add Nelly Furtado to that list of singers whose music is elevated in Spanish. "No Hay Igual" was my favorite song on her last album, Loose, and I can imagine her excellent new strummy-pop single, "Manos Al Aire," from her forthcoming Spanish-language Mi Plan album (September 15), becoming that rarest of musical beasts, a foreign-language hit on the Hot 100.

And along came Mary J. Blige. There's something about Mary in full-tilt party mode sans those preachy self-help sentiments that clutter her recent albums, and "The One" (featuring the latest rapper of the moment, Drake, as well as Auto-Tune) is the hottest joint she's lit up since "Family Affair." When her ninth studio album, Stronger, drops on November 24, I'm so there.

Now about that reality show that's supposed to premiere on BET the day her album is released. Say it isn't so, Mary. A reality show is an unnecessary evil for an artist at her commercial peak. Also interesting, is that the single is being used to hawk Motorola and LG phones for AT&T much like the single "Work That" from her last album was used to sell iPods. A final curious and somewhat infuriating fact: Stronger's second single, the title cut, features Chris Brown. Considering Mary's rumored personal experience with domestic violence and the fact that her 2005 CD, The Breakthrough, featured "Good Woman Down," an anthem for battered women, Mary probably should have chosen a different duet partner. I love me some Mary, but what is she doing?

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