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Product: Audio CD
Title: In The Zone
Label: Jive
Artist: Britney Spears
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5
Why are people so hard on Britney


I wasn't sure what to expect from Britney and reading articles that talked about the songs on the CD really didn't help me at all. But after seeing the CD on sale (a good one) and thinking, why not?, I got it, listened, and was amazed. While her voice is not in the same range as Mariah or Christina, the songs are pretty good.
*out of a score of 5 = great* 01. ME AGAINST THE MUSIC feat Madonna = 4/5 = the lead single of the album, I'll be surprised if there is a person who hasn't seen the video featuring Madonna. Good dance song. Basically about what it says (dancing/racing to the music)(cowritten by Britney) 02. (I GOT THAT) BOOM BOOM feat Ying Yang Twins = 4/5 = Southern hip-hop. The pairing of Brit with Ying Yang Twins surprised me and left me wondering if she shouldn't have gone for someone who wouldn't leave people wondering about why she's going this way to establish hip hop cred. But it works in a weird way. 1 point off for the confusion it left me (maybe she should've gone for Ludacris instead - after all, they both were Pepsi spokespeople at one point or another). On another note, I can picture this song being played in strip clubs everywhere. 03. SHOWDOWN = 3.5/5 = She doesn't sing as much as she whispers and coos on the track. This is the song that has her asking "would you undo my zipper please?" (cowritten by Britney) The beat's alright, the lyrics ok. 04. BREATHE ON ME = 5/5 = Definitely a great techno song. I could picture Kylie doing this song, but it works great with Britney's vocals. Love the beat. It's one of those songs you'd listen to on a long night drive and just groove as well as a song you'd hear remixed for the dance floor (can't wait to hear how it's remixes). 05. EARLY MORNIN' = 5/5 = Moby does a great job with the music and the producing. The lyrics are better than SHOWDOWN (in my humble opinion). Definitely a chill song about the morning after all night clubbing. So far, when Britney's writing with RedZone, the lyrics are pretty tight. (cowritten by Britney) 06. TOXIC = 5/5 = Bloodshy & Avant produced better beats for this song than with SHOWDOWN. Britney's vocals work with the beat. another great song to strip to. 07. OUTRAGEOUS = 4/5 = The R Kelly written/produced song. It has elements that we all know and "love" about his songs - sex and the flute loop (ie THOIA THOING and SNAKE). I know that R Kelly could've written something better (lyrically) for Britney. But it's still good to listen to. 08. TOUCH OF MY HAND = 5/5 = Britney is not the first artist to write about self love, so why should she get any criticism about it? Besides, the song is also about loving yourself (not in a sexual way) and goes about it in a different way than the way that Christina Aguilera and Jessica Simpson went. Also, the music accompanying the lyrics? Simply beautiful. (cowritten by Britney) 09. THE HOOK UP = 3/5 = There's a dancehall/reggae flavor that RedZone tries to infuse with the song. Just a song about hooking up with someone on the dance floor. A fun dance song. (cowritten by Britney) 10. SHADOW = 5/5 = a beautiful haunting song about the aftermath of a break up. I think the break up with Justin was an inspiration for this song. It's the only song cowritten by The Matrix that's on the album, which really disappointed me but hopefully the unreleased songs will be on subsequent CD singles (most likely import CD singles). (cowritten by Britney) 11. BRAVE NEW GIRL = 4/5 = Britney raps on this one but I think it's safe to say that she's not going to make a whole rap album (Eminem must be thrilled). The chorus is sung though. In the bridge, her vocals are manipulated in a way that's reminiscent of Madonna's IMPRESSIVE INSTANT. Neat beat, ok lyrics, definitely a song to dance to. (cowritten by Britney) 12. EVERYTIME = 4/5 = The ballad that everyone is talking about. It's definitely a sad sad song that should not have been right after BRAVE NEW GIRL (definitely drop in mood). I can picture this song being played at proms across the country. The placement would've fit better if SHADOW and BRAVE NEW GIRL were switched. (cowritten by Britney) 13. ME AGAINST THE MUSIC (Rishi Rich's Desi Kulcha Remix) feat Madonna = 3.5/5 = I like the remix, but again, the placement!!! Should've just place this in the middle of the album (perhaps after OUTRAGEOUS) and allowed EVERYTIME to fade to black. Also, the extra time could've been given to any one of the unreleased songs she was working on.
For all of the 13 songs, this album comes up to a surprising 50 minutes.
Personal thought (don't know if you'll agree with me) - perhaps Britney should stick with one main cowriter/producer for her next album. It's worked for her on her first one (Max Martin, ...Baby One More Time), and it's also worked for many artists such as Madonna (ie w/ Patrick Leonard - Like A Prayer CD), Mariah Carey (ie w/ Walter Afanis-whatever his name is, see any of her CD's prior to Butterfly), Christina Aguilera (Scott Storch on Stripped), Pink (Linda Perry on Missundaztood), etc. Then maybe her sales would go up. Just saying that there's a correlation...or coincidence.
However, one criticism on the disc. It's being touted as Britney's "most mature" to date. Talking about sex and masturbation does not make one mature. Breathing heavily on a song and moaning throughout the song does not make it mature. While she does take a leap with the producers and writers she works with, the lyrical content is not really mature. It's like a 13-year old trying to convince the world that she's mature because she knows what "masturbation" means. If you really want to hear maturity on a disc. I'd recommend Christina Aguilera's "Stripped" and Pink's "Missundaztood" - they both do not rely on heavy breathing or massive sexual lyrical content to display their maturity.
Also, I gave high points on songs because of the production, NOT the lyrics.



Product: Audio CD
Title: The Essential Bruce Springsteen
Label: Sony
Artist: Bruce Springsteen
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5
Only one Boss...


Greatest Hits albums are going to be a blessing and a curse in every situation. They are of course a blessing because you get great songs, often the cream, on one or two discs -- very convenient for your car CD player, for example.
Of course, by getting a Greatest Hits album you are only getting the most popular, not necessarily the best, songs. And with Springsteen, if all you ever bought and listened to was this record it would be a damned shame, because there has been no other single artist in the past 30 years with as deep a catalogue of songs. In fact, because Springsteen's albums are each so rich and lacking in duds, one can certainly question the wisdom of a Greatest Hits album. There is a certain assumption behind hits compilations that they allow you to avoid the dreck that populates 80 percent of the songs that record companies do not release as singles -- a problem that Springsteen does not have.
But for a casual fan or a serious Springsteen follower who wants two discs full of hits (and a bonus disc) to go along with the rest of their collection, this does the trick.



Product: Audio CD
Title: The Phantom of the Opera (Original 1986 London Cast)
Label: Decca U.S.
Artist:
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5
Amazing!


"The Phantom of the Opera" is the best musical I have ever listened to. The songs, especially "Music of the Night," are beautiful. Andrew Lloyd Webber is a genius.



Product: Audio CD
Title: David Gilmour
Label: Sony
Artist: David Gilmour
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5
Captures the Lost Period Between "Animals" and "The Wall"


It's now been an entire decade since Pink Floyd released a new studio album, and the likelihood of a forthcoming album or tour is getting drearier. So, once new fans have collected all of the albums of those legendary titans, and are perplexed as to where the "next Floyd album" is, they can find a silver lining in collecting the solo albums of the five past and present members. Aside from being a great place to start, David Gilmour's eponymous solo debut (along with fellow PF member Richard Wright's "Wet Dream") is significant for students of Floyd history; it captures the missing period of time between the 1977 "Animals" album and the long, tension-racked sessions for 1979's epic "The Wall." Released in 1978, Gilmour's first album is both as atmospheric and varied as "The Wall" due to his signature guitar work, and often as rough as "Animals." The opening instrumental 'Mihalis' and another interesting instrumental 'Raise My Rent' are like the instrumental demos Gilmour recorded during these sessions which would eventually become 'Comfortably Numb' and 'Run Like Hell.' But the top songs on the album present Gilmour as a strong songwriter, or in the case of the melodic 'There's No Way Out Of Here,' an interpreter. 'So Far Away' and 'I Can't Breathe Anymore' prove the guitarist is an excellent crafter of songs, and it's been speculated that 'No Way' could be Gilmour's description of Floyd's dominant presence Roger Waters, while 'Short and Sweet' (co-written with Roy Harper) is the kind of radio-friendly song that makes this album such a joy for even non-Floyd fans to listen to.