Album Review: Lea Michele – Louder

Lea Michele Louder album cover

Lea Michele delivers decent pop debut
Lea Michele, famous for her main role in the cast of the series Glee, decided last year she wanted a career as a recording artist as well. At the end of 2012 she started to record songs and by summer, the album was ready for release. As we all know, a tragedy happened in her life as her boyfriend Cory Monteith died. Michele took some time to mourn over the loss of her lover and the album release got postponed. When the singer got back to work, she decided to record a few new songs, some of them being very personal. All together, Louder is a beautiful album full of great pop tunes and emotional ballads.

In December, Michele premiered ‘Cannonball’, her debut single. She recorded it after the death of Monteith. The song is written by Sia and Lea expressed in interviews how she felt the song was about her life at that moment. The power-ballad is about not letting the sadness get the better of you, but going on with your life. The power in the lyrics and the production of the song, are beautifully translated in Lea’s strong vocals. This was her first attempt at being a pop star and it was very promising to say the least. With the rest of the album, Michele shows the high expectations were justified.

The second track ‘On My Way’, which will be released as second single as well, shows Lea’s voice is perfectly suitable for some more uptempo pop tracks as well. The chorus is explosive and the rhythm is very upbeat and contagious. In an interview with Vevo, Lea explained how initially, her album was more focused on uptempo pop songs, inspired by Katy Perry and Kelly Clarkson. In the process of making Louder, she found out that she started to sound too similar to their style and she wanted to make things more personal. The song ‘Battlefield’ was an important moment for her, as that was the track that defined the style she wanted to create for herself, which is great. Songs like ‘On My Way’, ‘Louder’ and ‘Don’t Let Go’ are all nice uptempo tracks, but could basically be recorded by any female pop star that is out there at the moment.

Lea Michele truly shines on somewhat slower songs that are emotionally driven with vulnerable lyrics. The best example of this is the outstanding song ‘Thousand Needles’, that was co-written by Swedish pop singer Tove Lo. Lea perfectly gets across the emotions in the lyrics with per powerful vocals. Especially the ‘I’m Bleeding’ parts are strong and touching. The aforementioned ‘Battlefield’ shows off Lea’s vocal strengths very well too and once again she convinces with an emotional performance of quite a sad song. Luckily, this album is not only about loss and despair, as is proven by the Sia-penned ‘You’re Mine’. This is a gorgeous and uplifting pure love song that is taken to another level by its great production full of strings.

Sia and Tove Lo are not the only pop stars who delivered a song for miss Michele. Christina Perri also wrote a track called ‘Empty Handed’, that ended up on Louder. It is a beautiful, understated and pure song that is typical for Perri, but at the same time fits Lea’s style very well. The album is closed by the painfully honest song ‘If You Say So’, co-written by Michele herself. The song is about the last conversation on the phone she had with her late boyfriend Cory Monteith. The song describes this quite literal and although this is a painful story, she managed to turn it into a beaufiful song. I have got a lot of respect for the fact that she was able to turn this sad loss into a song and put it on her album. Michele is a brave pop star with a bright future. She started off her career as a recording artist in a great way with a beautiful, well produced album.

Must listen: Cannonball, Thousand Needles, Empty Handed, You’re Mine, If You Say So.

The 10 most promising new artists in 2014

As 2014 already started, it is time to take a look at new artists that stand a good chance of having their big breakthrough this year. Of course some artists already started to gain some successes, but these new(ish) artists have in common that 2014 will have to be their year. Check out the 10 most promising new artists that will make 2014 an exciting year in pop!

10. Mapei
Mapei is what you call an international artist. Her father is American, her mother is Liberian and when she was ten she moved to Sweden where she grew up. She has lived in Portugal, Brazil and Tunesia for a while and these different cultural backgrounds are apparent in her music as well. Mapei was mostly active as a rapper in the Swedish underground scene, but with the single ‘Don’t Wait’, released in October, her style changed. The song is soulful, driven by great beats and a guitar riff, and features some baile funk drums. The lyrics about trying not to ruin a friendship or love affair are from the heart. Mapei’s voice sounds warm and a little raspy at times. She is working on an album in a similar style to ‘Don’t Wait’ and I for one cannot wait to hear it!

ALECS, a young new London based artist, will release his debut EP The Fulham Tapes later this month. In December, he already posted the tracks on his Soundcloud page and this sounds surprisingly good. Inspired by artists like Frank Ocean and The Weeknd, ALECS created his own sound, which could be described as electronic, synth heavy, dark R&B mixed with pop. He mixes this sound with great hooks in his choruses which make the tracks somewhat more accessible. He has a great and distinctive sound of voice to top it all off and here’s hoping that we will hear more from him in 2014.

08. Saint Raymond
Saint Raymond had a great year in 2013. Young singer-songwriter Callum Burrows and his band mates released the EP Escapade and toured through Europe with Gabrielle Aplin and Haim. 2014 is off to a good start as well as the single ‘Young Blood’ is released. It is the best Saint Raymond song so far in all its uplifting catchiness. The song has got more than one great hook and it takes the catchy pop/rock they produced on the first EP to another level. The Young Blood EP will be out the 21st of January and it could well be that an album follows later this year.

There is a lot of hype around American electro pop artist BANKS lately. She finished third in the BBC Sound Of 2014 Poll. The Los Angeles born and London based singer gained attention by releasing two EP’s in 2013. In March, she released Fall Over and in September her London EP came out. The singer went on tour with The Weeknd and there are some stylistic similarities in both artists’ music. BANKS’ music can be described as a mix of dark R&B and pop with a heavily electronic twist. Her distinctive vocal style might not be suited for mainstream radio, but it works perfectly on refreshing tracks like ‘Fall Over’ and ‘Waiting Game’. Her style is cohesive, but does not bore at the same time, so a full album could be potentially great!

06. Foxes
Foxes has been working her way up in music for a few years now and in 2013 she had her first international hit with ‘Clarity’, a song by producer and DJ Zedd on which she features. The big dance anthem showcases her beautiful vocals and the singer went on to have another hit in the UK with ‘Youth’, a slightly more alternative and electronic sort of pop song. Foxes will release her debut album Glorious in March and although half of the tracks have already been released (great pop song ‘Echo’ was used as a single, ‘Holding Onto Heaven’ and ‘Shaking Heads’ are already released on iTunes), there is still more to come. She released the video for single ‘Let Go For Tonight’ earlier this week and this huge, catchy, carefree straightforward pop song might bring her the big success she deserves.

05. Hozier
Hozier managed to catch a lot of attention in October last year when he released his single ‘Take Me To Church’ and an accompanying video with a strong message against homophobic violence. The 23-year-old Irish musician released a free EP on his website including the single and three other songs. ‘Take Me To Church’ is a dark song with an ominous atmosphere, but with a big and bright in-your-face chorus at the same time. Hozier impresses with his deep tone of voice that works perfectly with the style of his songs. An album this year would be very much appreciated, thank you very much.

04. Chlöe Howl
The 18-year-old British singer Chlöe Howl is set to release her debut album in 2014. The BBC included her in their long list for The Sound of 2014. Based on the three singles she has released so far she could become one of the most exciting new artists this year. ‘No Strings’, ‘Paper Heart’ and ‘Rumour’ are all catchy up tempo pop tracks with killer choruses. Chlöe’s voice sounds very strong and mature, considering her age and her ability to write songs with sharp and smart lyrics is impressive. In the first months of 2014, Howl will be touring with Ellie Goulding and in June it is time for her to launch her first album!

03. Lea Michele
Although Lea Michele is not really a new face in the entertainment industry, I included her in this list because she is just starting a solo career as a pop artist. Many of you may know her as Rachel in the series Glee, but Michele decided to focus on a music career as well. The singer released the Sia-penned single ‘Cannonball’ in December and that was quite a brilliant power ballad. Along with the pre-orders of her debut album Louder, that will be released on the 4th of March, she premiered the track ‘Battlefield’, also written by Sia. Once again a beautiful ballad. The album features a co-write by Christina Perri as well and I have faith this record will be very, very good.

02. Say Lou Lou
The Swedish/Australian twin sisters of Say Lou Lou (formerly known as Saint Lou Lou) are expected to have a big breakthrough this year. They already made the long list of BBC’s The Sound of 2014. 2013 has been a great year musically for the girls as they released the singles ‘Julian’, ‘Better In The Dark’ and ‘Beloved’. Although ‘Beloved’ is my favourite, it has to be said that all three songs are exceptionally well-written and beautiful. An album full of their dreamy and melodic pop would be great, now wouldn’t it?

01. Tove Lo
Frequent readers of my blog might already realize I am a fan of this Swedish girl and I predict big things for her in the near future. 2014 has to be the year of Tove Lo. She gave us the singles ‘Habits’ and ‘Out Of Mind’ in 2013, which are both no less than brilliant pop songs. With these tracks, she shows she knows how to write great pop choruses and her lyrics are powerful and heartbreaking at the same time. Recently, she announced on Twitter that her new EP is in final stages, so that should see the light of day soon enough. Fun fact: she also co-wrote the track ‘Thousand Needles’ for Lea Michele’s debut album. I am desperate for new Tove Lo songs in my life and so should you!

Single Review: Lea Michele – Cannonball

Lea Michele Louder album cover

Glee actress transforms into an exciting new pop star

As we all know, 2013 has been an absolutely tough year for Lea Michele. The singer and actress lost the love of her life, but managed to keep going and appeared in the latest episodes of Glee. Michele broke through with playing the role of Rachel in this series a few years ago. Now it is time to broaden her horizon and start a solo career in music. Today, she released her first single ‘Cannonball’. The debut album Louder will follow in March next year and judging by this first single, 2014 could definitely be the year of Lea Michele.

Lea Michele has been playing one of the main roles in Glee for a few years now and she could be considered as one of the biggest voices of the cast as well. After numerous solos on cover songs during the show, she now decided to release her own music. For her first single, the power ballad ‘Cannonball’, the singer got some help from Sia, who penned the track. Michele did not co-write on her first single, but she does have some writing credits on the album, along with artists like Christina Perri, new Swedish star Tove Lo and more appearances from Sia.

Lea Michele is not the first artist that recently put out a Sia written ballad. Rihanna’s ‘Diamonds’, Céline Dion’s ‘Loved Me Back To Life’, Britney’s ‘Perfume’ and many other album tracks were written by the Australian singer-songwriter. Sia’s writing style is recognizable in the power ballad ‘Cannonball’. Both the verses and chorus are incredibly catchy and powerful. Lea’s strong vocals match very well with this type of pop ballad. The song is not miles away from the above mentioned Sia tracks, but it also reminds slightly of songs like ‘Battlefield’ by Jordin Sparks. The repetition of certain words in the chorus as well as the verses add to the catchiness of the track and the melody is basically very strong throughout every part. Lea gets the chance to showcase the strength of her vocals and although the last chorus could have done with a bit more of a climax, I think it is a good thing that they kept her vocal style poppy and not too theatrical. Overall, ‘Cannonball’ is an exciting first single from a promising new pop star!


Single recensie: Lea Michele – Cannonball

Glee actrice ontpopt zich tot veelbelovende popster

Zoals de meesten van ons wel weten is 2013 bepaald geen makkelijk jaar geweest voor Lea Michele. De zangeres en actrice verloor de liefde van haar leven, maar sloeg zich dapper door deze moeilijke tijd heen door toch in de meest recente afleveringen van Glee te verschijnen. Michele brak enkele jaren geleden door toen ze de rol van Rachel op zich nam in de populaire televisieserie. Nu verbreedt ze haar horizon door een solo carrière in de popmuziek te beginnen. Vandaag verscheen haar eerste single ‘Cannonball’ en het debuutalbum Louder zal in maart in de schappen liggen. 2014 zou zomaar eens het jaar van Lea Michele kunnen worden.

Lea Michele speelt al enkele jaren één van de hoofdrollen in Glee en ze zou ook wel de grootste stem in de cast van de serie genoemd kunnen worden. Na het inzingen van vele solo’s op een oneindige hoeveelheid covers afkomstig uit de show, vond ze het nu tijd om met haar eigen materiaal aan de slag te gaan. Voor de eerste single, powerballad ‘Cannonball’, kreeg de zangeres hulp van Sia, die meeschreef. Michele schreef zelf niet mee aan haar debuutsingle, maar krijgt wel enkele credits op andere tracks die op haar debuut komen te staan, naast inbreng van onder anderen zangeres Christina Perri, nieuwe Zweedse ster Tove Lo en nog een aantal co-writes van Sia.

Lea Michele is niet de eerste die met een door Sia geschreven song op de proppen komt. Rihanna’s ‘Diamonds’, Céline Dion’s ‘Loved Me Back To Life’, Britney’s ‘Perfume’ en een behoorlijke hoeveelheid albumtracks van diverse artiesten werden door de Australische singer-songwriter geschreven. Sia’s stijl is dan ook gemakkelijk te herkennen op ‘Cannonball’. Zowel de coupletten als de refreinen van de track zijn zeer catchy en krachtig. Lea’s sterke stem sluit dan ook perfect aan bij liedjes in deze stijl. De song ligt qua geluid niet ver bij de bovengenoemde Sia songs vandaan, maar doet hier en daar qua opbouw ook wat denken aan liedjes als ‘Battlefield’ van Jordin Sparks. Het herhalen van bepaalde woorden tijdens zowel de coupletten als het refrein, draagt bij aan de aanstekelijkheid van de plaat en de melodie is eigenlijk gedurende het hele lied ijzersterk. Lea krijgt de kans om de kracht van haar stem te laten horen en hoewel het laatste refrein misschien een iets grotere climax had nodig gehad, is het goed om te horen dat haar stem in de productie poppy is gebleven en niet te theatraal is gemaakt. ‘Cannonball’ is dan ook een veelbelovende nieuwe single van een interessante nieuwe popster!