Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Album Review: Vanessa Hudgens - V

Back to normal content, for the first time in a while. Yay! I have surprisingly few ideas that I've stored up over the last month, but whatever. Here's a review of an album that I avoided reviewing for a long time. Did my fears play out, or was I pleasantly surprised? Read to find out!!:

Vanessa Hudgens - V

Based on the lead single, "Come Back to Me", I was strongly not looking forward to listening to this album, which is why I avoided it for so long. But I was in my year end album listening mania, and I figured what the hell. But, you see, "Come Back to Me" was one of my least favorite hit Disney singles of the year. It's in that faux, kiddie R&B style of the Cheetah Girls, and it's just so very, very bland. Though I do love the "Baby V!" part. Plus, Vanessa was my least favorite of the four main stars in High School Musical.

However, my opinion of the album quickly swayed. Upon a first listen I started to sweat it a bit "Hey, wait a minute, this isn't half-bad". Swaying to "Man, this is actually good!" After all, "Come Back to Me" is one of only 3 genuinely bad songs on this album ("Never Underestimate a Girl", "Let's Dance"), though a few others are of the bland, filler variety (e.g. "Whatever Will Be", "Psychic", "Drive [which sounds like a HSM reject]). The fact that those 3 bad tracks are 3 of the first 5 songs is what made me so surprised by how much I liked the album ultimately. And the album contains more pretty ballads (which I am still an absolute sucker for) than Cheetah style R&B rockers, and Vanessa's voice sounds great throughout the album. Rather than upbeat, "vacantly inspirational" (tm Village Voice) lyrics, most of the lyrics of this album are of the vaguely confessional variety, which I always appreciate. This makes for a genuinely enjoyable listening experience. And it's not just that it's consistently pretty good, this album could spawn multiple singles in my top 50 singles of the year next year, as long as they pick the songs I like best as singles.

And "Say OK", which is the next single off of the album, is a great start. Clearly the standout track on this album, this is the first great single of 2007, and will likely rank in my top 30-50 of the year at least, depending on how good of a year for singles it is. There are 6 songs on this album (out of 14) that I will legitimately characterize as good, compared to 3 I was characterize as bad. Which isn't a great ratio, but for a Disney tie in album, it's rather good. Here are the 6 songs in the order that they appear on the album:

"Let Go" IS a kiddie R&B rocker, but it has a REALLY catchy chorus. Maybe a little repetitive, but I love the chorus so much, that it can repeat itself as much as it wants. And it has an incredibly bizarre, jazzy bridge that totally works even though it seems like it shouldn't. The lyrics detail Vanessa desiring to go out and party with her friends after, apparently, some kind of particularly harsh breakup. The breakup is only referenced obliquely, so it plays as a pro-partying "Wake Up" style number, but the sadness is tangible in the lyrics. Top 50 contender for next year if released.

"Say OK" I love, love, love. I could listen to this melody for hours on end without getting tired of it, I think, and I love the percussion. In this song, Vanessa is wary of getting into a relationship with a guy because she's scared that he will hurt her and is unsure of how much he really likes her: "But I don't wanna be into you/If you don't treat me the right way/See I can only start seeing you/If you can make my heart feel safe (feel safe)". OK, hardly original lyrics, but it's done fairly well. And Vanessa's vocal performance captures the inherent uncertainty present in the lyrics in the way that somebody with a traditionally stronger voice would be able to. The chorus is washed out in beautiful harmonies that I absolutely love as well. The harmonies don't soar, like they do on HSM, they just kind of wash out, which is appropriate for the lyrical content

"Afraid" is of the pretty ballad variety. I guess some listeners will be bored by it, but once again I really love this type of song. Beautiful, washed out harmonies in the chorus to this one as well, giving way to unharmonized lines sung by Vanessa's little, beautiful voice. The lyrics detail trepidation to get into a new relationship in the face of a bad breakup from her last relationship: "Why am I so afraid to crash down and lose my heart again/I don't know, I can't see, what's come over me". Actually, this song is a lot like a worse version of "Say OK", which isn't exactly high praise, but I like it plenty on its own merits. Fairly simple production on this doesn't distract from the melody, but nevertheless manages to provide some nice instrumenation.

"Rather Be With You" starts out really well with some kind of synth riff and Vanessa cooing over it. The rest of the verses aren't really anything great, but it kicks up in the chorus a whole lot. This is one of the rockinest songs on the album. This is probably the worst of the proclaimed "good" songs on the album, but hell I love the intro/synth riff and the chorus is catchy enough. Plus it's one of the only (maybe the only?) songs on the album with truly original lyrics. In the lyrics, a boy who has a crush on Baby V sends over a friend to feel her out and see if Vanessa likes him back. But Vanessa secretly likes the messenger himself! And she's not afraid to tell him. Nothing too earthshattering I guess, but I've never heard it in another song before and it made me chuckle a little.

"Lose Your Love" is another of the kiddie R&B songs. Which makes me think that I don't inherently dislike the genre, it's just that the songs that have hit on Radio Diz of this style have been bad songs. The lyrics are nothing special, a person begging her boyfriend to stay with her. Bleh. But it has one of the oddest choruses I've heard on one of the Disney songs. Completely washed out in harmony so that it totally removes all the character from Vanessa's voice and seeming to go on for a little too long, mixing in melodies together, it makes for an odd experience. BUT, it's a good chorus, and the pre-chorus is really good too! You think the chorus is over after "Don't wanna lose your love", but it's not! Nice misdirection.

"Make Your Mind" ends the album on a rockin' note, and there's not much to say about this song except that it has a catchy chorus. That melody is almost all it has going for it, as the lyrics are nothing special, and the production is vaguely annoying. But the best pure melody on the album aside from "Say OK" (both in the verses and chorus) make this one of the standouts on the album nonetheless. This despite possibly the most inane love song lyrics on the entire album. Ends with a rather pleasant "Na na na" part.

Final Rating/Comments: This album shattered all my previous conceptions of it rather quickly. Despite all outside appearances, I think this is actually the best of the Diz tie in albums last year. Better than High School Musical, better than Hannah Montana (though clearly the HM soundtrack had better songs at their respective best), better than Cheetah Girls 2, well you get the point. That being said, the album was clearly rushed, and it shows. If they had taken the time to fill out the album with material on par with the best, it could have been really great. Heck, if they had taken more time to take the good material and turn it into great material, the album could have shown big improvement. But, still, this is nothing to sneeze at as a debut effort from the Baby V. 7/10.

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Blogger numeros said...

Hola vanessa como estas solo queria decirte que eres mi artista favorita y te puede pedir un favor
agregame y es y dame tu msm te quiero saludame a stella y a candy bay bay.

11:58 PM  

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