Tag Archives: Max Martin

25 and Loving It

After four long years, we were finally grace with Adele’s new album, 25.  Adele has said that she was at first afraid that she would not be able to follow up her last album, 21, which was an enormous success and broke so many records (including being the first album since the advent of the internet and illegal downloading to be certified diamond (selling over ten million copies)).  This in addition to some personal issues probably caused the delay.  But it was worth the wait.

After finding peace with the fact that 25 may not live up to 21, Adele has said that writing became fun again like it did when she was writing her first album, 19.  Her album certainly shows her focusing on herself, her truths, and writing what she was experiencing: the transition into adulthood.  The album has a sense of yearning for simpler times but also a sense of acceptance towards the past.  The greatest growth Adele has made in these four years is that in 21 she was blaming a lot of her heartache on her ex-lover (who probably was to blame), but 25 shows Adele accepting that while he may be a jerk, she needs to move on with her life.  That she is in control.  (By the way, I have no idea if the same guy inspired both albums, I’m speaking in general of love: that when she was younger, she would blame love but now that she is older, she accepts it).

I don’t think Adele has anything to worry about in regards to 25 not living up to 21.  The album alone has been sitting in the iTunes top one or two spot for the month it was on preorder (an unusual feat) and is on track to sell well over a million copies in its first week (per Billboard).  Even still, her vocal work (which was already phenomenal) has seemed to grow as well.  Her voice seems to have grown warmer, slightly deeper and even more emotive, it such a thing was possible.

My favorite song after a quick listen through was definitely “Send My Love (to Your New Lover).”  The song, co-written with Max Martin and Shellback – the two masterminds behind some of Taylor Swift’s recent hits like “Shake it Off,” “Blank Space,” and “Bad Blood” and a ton of other hits (look up Max Martin’s writing/producing credits on Wikipedia, it’s literally every hit song since the ’90s…he’s a genius) – is quite upbeat for Adele.  It’s faster paced than we’re used to, but it’s amazing.  It starts off with this fantastic rhythmic guitar and drum beat.  The chorus is particularly infectious with the way she sings “lover” in the line “send my love to your new lover.”  It’s so un-Adele but it’s fantastic.  It’s not Adele trying to be someone she’s not, it’s her showing us a new side of herself.

“Send My Love (to Your New Lover)” was apparently supposed to be the lead single but Adele felt that “Hello” was a better representation of her album as a whole – she didn’t want people to think the whole album was entirely upbeat like “Send My Love (to Your New Lover),” which it isn’t.  Regardless, “Send My Love (to Your New Lover)” should be a future single, as well as “When We Were Young” (which I think will be her next single), “Water Under the Bridge,” and “Remedy.”  The entire album is really full of glorious hits and I can’t see 25 not coming close or even surpassing 21.

UPDATE: 25 sold 3.378 million copies in it's first week on sale, which shattered the record of most albums sold in the U.S. in it's first week.  NSync sold 2.416 million copies in one week in 2000.  25 even went on to sell over a million copies in it's second, which I believe is the only album to do that. As of December 24th, 25 has sold 7.13 million copies.  That's in one month of sale!

The Problem with “Problem”

Today I ran some errands, and I managed to listen to “Problem” by Ariana Grande featuring Iggy Azalea the whole time because every radio station was playing it.  And I do have to admit it’s a pretty catchy song, despite a few…um, problems with it.  Regardless, let’s call it #PhillipsSongOfTheDay.

The synthed-saxophone beats and Iggy Azalea really make this song POP; both give the song a very spirited effervescence.  They make you shake your head (or booty…if that’s your thing), and make you want to throw your hands up in the air and forget about your cares.  After all, it causes you to “realize [you’ve] got one less problem” after listening to the song.  Iggy Azalea especially has this great confidence and attitude in her rap; she seems like a cool chick to hang out with (you should check out her new album, The New Classic).  The sax really pushes the song through, giving it a good beat and rhythm to dance to.

“Problem,” by Ariana Grande featuring Iggy Azalea

 

However, I do have two main critiques for this song.  First, we absolutely have no idea what Ariana Grande is singing.  I mean, this may not be a big deal, given the fact this is a song more meant for the beat, not the lyrics.  However, it does become a problem for me because when you look up the lyrics, you realize she is singing words that you couldn’t even imagine her saying.  For example, in the prechorus/hook she sings at 0:29, I thought she was saying “heaven is a place where [blah blah, something I couldn’t understand],” and she’s actually saying:

Head in the clouds
Got no weight on my shoulders
I should be wiser
And realize that I’ve got

Like, when I googled those lyrics I was like, “Damn, really?  That’s what’s going on?  Okay…”  Ariana Grande really needs to work on her diction.  I mean, we can understand Iggy Azalea, which somewhat allows for Iggy Azalea to upstage Grande.

The other issue I have with this song is a simple production decision point.  While Max Martin and Shellback are like music gods (they co-wrote/produced hits like Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and “I Knew You Were Trouble.,” Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok,” P!nk’s “So What” and “Who Knew,” etc.), I have to say I disagree with what they did in the ten seconds after Iggy Azalea’s rap (2:20-2:30).  They pull back after Iggy Azalea raps “I’ve got 99 problems but you won’t be one, like what!” to an almost complete stop.  It’s rather an unfortunate 180, because they got their audience dancing along, jamming out for two and half minutes, then we’re left in an awkward dead space.  They should have just gone right into the prechorus/hook of “head in the clouds.”  That would have really kept the pace of the song, and let us continue on with our dance party.  Other than that, the production is pretty much phenomenal; as I said before, the sax really drives the song and the beats make you want to get up and forget about your problems.