Sistar member Hyolyn’s unique, husky voice has always been a main feature of many of the group’s tracks. No doubt she has a special voice, but compared to the hype, Hyolyn was not able to show her full potential on her solo album. Instead the 10-track album delivers pleasant-sounding but overall mediocre pop tunes.
Hyolyn’s usually strong vocals are toned down in starting track “Lonely,” a mid-tempo ballad. But in “One Way Love,” an R&B number that features a short rap section, her husky voice definitely shines.
Following up in “Stalker,” the featuring artist Mad Clown raps for a good majority of the track, resulting in Hyolyn’s voice being overpowered.
Ballads “Don’t Love Me” and “Falling” are the high points of the album where the singer features her well-polished vocals. Whereas “O.M.G,” featuring Lil Boi of Geeks is a bubbly, light number with a simple melody and beat. “Tonight” is an R&B and pop hybrid with unique wind pipe riffs throughout.
Fans often call Hyolyn the “Beyonce of Korea,” but in order for her voice to truly shine, she needs to expand her horizons and move past mediocre mainstream tunes. However, the album does carry a few gems, making her first solo album a very good start.
By Cha Yo-rim (firstname.lastname@example.org)
“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” Soundtrack
Choosing the tracks for “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” soundtrack must have been a mini-Hunger Games in itself after the wild success of the first film. The victors offer a mix of indie and mainstream, adding a rounded, energetic and emotional dimension to the film.
The twelve tributes (fifteen on the deluxe edition) of album No. 2 battle it out to discover who puts out the edgiest, yet accessible, song in homage to the story.
A few traces from the original DNA remain with such tracks as the folky “Lean” by The National, “Devil May Cry” by The Weeknd and the dulcet tones of “Gale Song” by The Lumineers. The lead single “Atlas,” from British rockers Coldplay, brings a low simmer resignation to boil over into anger.
But the indie performers modulate their voices in a different direction -- instead of reassuring, revolutionary tones they all go eerie synth. Teen sensation Lorde does an underwater-sounding cover of Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” that takes its original cheerful spirit and twists it into a macabre warning. Australian Sia convincingly taps into the best of tribal pop on “Elastic Heart,” featuring The Weeknd and Diplo, while Ellie Goulding goes all angelic sci-fi electro in “Mirror.” (AP)
Named after a ghetto Hindu goddess, M.I.A.’s fourth proper album pops with a relentless pounce and is filled with all the paradoxical imagery that the intro’s title “Karmageddon” conjures.
On the call-to-arms title track she breaks it down as a tsunami of percussion mounts: “It’s so simple/Get to the floor.” Then sets it off simply by rhyming different places – “Gambia/Namibia/Bali/Mali/Chile/Malawi” -- in her inimitable cadence.
She plays vocal acrobat on “Bring The Noize,” tabbing herself the “female Slick Rick” and unleashing spitfire bars like “Do you like my perfumes?/I made it at home with some gasoline and shrooms.” Her playful side rhymes “giddy up” with “light the city up” and boards Boeings eating bananas. On “attention” she flips the syllable “tent” 50 different ways.
Production by Switch, Hit-Boy, Danja and The Partysquad is just as enigmatic. Take “Double Bubble Trouble” where a trap intro gives way to a Rastafari sway before hitting up the dancehall and riding out on a beat Omar Souleyman might floss over.
Songs like “Lights” and “Come Walk With Me” are nice encapsulations of the record’s split personality: part pop gold, part way out there. (AP)