Jake Miller admits to radio host Elvis Duran that he made this entire album himself. He wrote most of 2:00am In LA two steps away from his bed at his microphone and keyboard. A friend helped him drag a bed out to the middle of a street in downtown LA where they took pictures for the album cover. “I wanted to make sure the album didn’t have any pretty boy pictures of me on the cover. I wanted it to be more about the music” he told Duran. “It’s my favorite album cover we’ve ever done.”
2:00am In LA dropped and then climbed the charts immediately. Miller took to Snapchat thanking fans for making it happen. He spent his release day celebrating with family and friends. It’s easy to see; he’s happy. Although this is a breakup album, Miller fills it with every element of the good and the bad. “Sleeping with Strangers” is a reality check about moving on while “Parties” reflects on a new lifestyle after heartbreak.
Curated pop is an easy way to describe this collection. Each track feels carefully thought out and put together; call it a passion project if you will. “Can’t Help Myself”, “Answers”, and “Halfway” are infused with EDM beats; something Miller has been strikingly good at over the years (listen to his 2013 hit “Collide”). “No Return” brings out the R&B Jake that the ladies love. He daintily details a sexual encounter; “you naked in my bed right now, it’s getting so hard to breathe.” Breakup albums seem to be all the rage (Halsey’s recent Hopeless Fountain Kingdom, and Lorde’s, Melodrama), and for some reason, they resonate with the fans.
What makes LA so cool is that we see Jake as a grown man, who’s been broken down and is now built back up and ready for something new/better. Dropping his label, he has now taken complete control over his music and image. Even teaching himself how to produce his own music and piece together what he wanted this album to be. Don’t judge him on his early pop days, instead just soak up and absorb the artist he is today.
There’s no doubt Zayn Malik has made a name for himself in the pop scene as we heard with his explosive single “Pillowtalk”. But this time, he lends his vocals to Snakehips, a British electronic/R&B duo who are also responsible for the catchy anthem, “All My Friends.”
Malik’s vocal prowess is as powerful as ever. In the boppy light chorus he sings, “It’s such a cruel, world, saving all my love for you.” A balance between electro-pop and R&B is right where he fits perfectly. Snakehips keep their sound fresh and new age along with their energetic clap beats, as we hear on this one.
Fellow pop singer, Troye Sivan tweeted about his love for the new song saying, “alright Cruel by @snakehipsuk ft @zaynmalik has one of the best choruses of 2016.” I AGREE. Snakehips should be plaguing radio stations with this one
The lyrics are electric modern love. Even with all the madness happening in the world, he can’t help but be bothered with her presence, it’s quite beautiful actually. “Noise and tears, death on the TV, and then there’s you…I can’t concentrate, I just see your outline.” Later on, he refers to her body as “CCTV” (closed circuit television/surveillance footage) replaying in his head. Although the lyrics are quite mature, the chorus has a child-like quality that is easy to sing-along to and mimic.
Coldplay cranks up the gorgeous magic on their latest single, “Adventure of A Lifetime” a Daft Punk/Alt-esque song. Martin’s voice soars, as usual as he sings, “You make me feel like i’m alive again, alive again!” A reoccurring guitar riff flows through the song making you bop your head in-sync. Coldplay always delivers a powerful message, and “Lifetime” is no different; “And if we’ve only got this life, In this adventure, then, I want to share it with you.” The song becomes addicting (as most Coldplay songs do) and the chill vibe is strong. Martin recently told KROQ that “Adventure of A Lifetime” is, “Just the way we’re feeling at the moment…last year we made this record called Ghost Stories which was very intimate and personal—it was more about how to deal with difficult feelings and how to alchemize them. And part of learning that journey was that at the end of it you get to a more joyful place. So some of that is really coming through on this album.” I can’t wait to hear what’s next!
“I can love you better than she can,” are the words achingly sung from Banks’ quivering lips as she serenades her coven of fans with her newest single, “Better”. I know I preach a lot about Banks, because I think she is one of the most iconic and unique faces in the music industry right now. NOTHING can be compared to Banks. I will wave her flag forever. Accompanied by a visually stunning music video where Banks’ body is donned in rough gold makeup as she cries out every single lyric. “Better” is nothing without her insanely magnetic vocals. Her raspy voice tells a compelling story as backup vocals chant for dramatic effect against a subtle smooth electro sound until the chorus hits and you feel a massive explosion. “Better” makes you step back and say “Woah, this is seriously something.” You need a moment to process what you just heard. The raw emotion is overwhelmingly alluring; one of Banks’ specialties.
“Ryan Adams? Who’s that?” -Says almost every teenager this week as Adams’ album 1989 hit the web. When I first heard Ryan Adams was going to be covering Taylor Swift’s entire album, I knew it would be beautiful, because her lyrical content is extremely strong, especially on this album. But I expected a fully acoustic album from start to finish, instead, Adams completely re-vamped each song, truly making it his own.
With Bono-like vocals, 1989 is a little bit country, a little bit rock, and even a little bit folk. Songs like “Style” take on a whole new level of rock, that you don’t hear in your head when listening to Swift’s version. While the uppity “Shake It Off” is transformed into a soft easy-going song that you could sip your Chai Tea too at a nearby corner Starbucks. Soft electric guitars cruise through the entire album with subtle grace and beauty. “Bad Blood” remains almost the exact same but is transformed into an acoustic version, keeping a similar beat.
I have to applaud Adams, for following what I’d like to call a “passion project”. I can only imagine how difficult this was to work on. You would be constantly reminded of the original versions, which could be extremely distracting.
Adams recently told Zane Lowe on his Apple Music radio show, that he’s been a Swift fan for a while, “A lot of those songs are pretty flawless, they’re so well written, they’re so clean.” His recent divorce with actress/singer Mandy Moore most likely contributed to his newfound love for poetic lyrics, as heard in pretty much every Swift song. Once Adams set his mind to this project, he did it, “I bought a four track cassette recorder and I was like, ‘I’m gonna make 1989 like Nebraska style…Just acoustic guitar, bunch of spring reverb, just me.”