Tuesday, May 20, 2008

ALBUM REVIEW: Jesse McCartney's "Departure" from Pop

Jesse McCartney's 2004 album Beautiful Soul was bolstered by the title single that had ladies swooning. However, his 2006 sophomore follow-up, Right Where You Want Me, crashed and burned, as he attempted to enter an edgier rock-infused genre. So it baffles my mind as to why he thought the solution to this slump was to veer drastically into R&B and Rap. Besides the fact that people would brand him as a poser, there was the slim possibility that his talent wouldn't translate well into that genre. It graduated from "slim" to "huge" after I listened to the third track, "Rock You."

Now it isn't all unbearable to listen to. "It's Over" still has Jesse crooning, except now there's an R&B backbeat from the producing team The Clutch--perfectly acceptable, despite the uncharacteristic lines: "I use to be tripping over missing you," and "I do everything I can to not put my business in the streets." Since when did he talk like that? Listen for yourself:

But then "Rock You" comes on and my ears started to bleed, because of its annoying chorus that's supposed to engage the listener but just makes them turn it off. I particularly hate lines like, "They call me Jesse baby." It's your name sweetie. It's not like a term of endearment. I get that people are trying to stick him with a preteen virginal fan base, but this isn't the way to mature gracefully. And if you want to know how to do sexy, then take a page out of your idol, Justin Timberlake's, handbook. Hell, hire Justin if you have to, just stop making tracks like "Into Ya," which makes me want to gag--it's so uncharacteristically perverted--or the overly rhymie "Makeup," where he says: "I want to see you when you wake up/cause you look good without make up," or the super high-pitched (and not in a good way) "My Baby," or even the attempt at a party song, "Freaky." Seriously, I want my Jesse back.

He managed to redeem himself a bit with "Told You So," "Relapse," and "Runnin," but mainly with his first single "Leavin" and what should be his second, "How do you Sleep" (below). Listen:

Sometimes I wonder what R&B and Rap producers and co-writers attempt to accomplish by playing "Yes-men" to pop singers. Why would you sully your reputation by giving them half-assed lyrics and sub-par beats? It just makes them look like idiots. Jesse really needs to master the art of treading the fine line between R&B and Pop without sounding forced. Oh! and I hope the rumor about him hooking up with Aubrey O'Day from Danity Kane isn't his way of trying to appear legit. She isn't a symbol of R&B. She's a skank--ask Perez.

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