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 Idols' battle of debut CDs - Adam vs Kris on The Straits Times!!

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PostSubject: Idols' battle of debut CDs - Adam vs Kris on The Straits Times!!   Sat 28 Nov 2009, 10:47 am

The Straits Times LIFE Section today (28 Nov 2009) has just published a cover story of Adam vs Kris:

Vanilla versus va-va-voom. Bland versus bold. Safe versus in-your-face. Kris Allen versus Adam Lambert.

The fight between the American Idol season 8 finalists is not over.

Six months after they battled their lungs out on stage in one of the most highly anticipated finals that pulled in a record 624 million votes in the popular reality TV show, they are duking it out again with their debut albums released at almost the same time.

Allen, the dark horse winner of the singing contest in May, released his self-titled effort last week. Lambert released his album For Your Entertainment on Monday.

And in the second round of their battle, Allen is getting whipped real bad by Lambert in terms of album sales.

Lambert is off to a good start. Both the extended and standard versions of the album made it to No. 3 and 9 on the iTunes Store Top 10 Albums chart just four days after their release. The extended version contains additional tracks such as behind-the-scenes recordings.

The online music store based in the United States updates its charts in real time.

Allen's 13-track album, however, has yet to make it to any of the music charts in the United States. His debut single Live Like We're Dying has managed only the No. 38 spot on the Billboard chart for pop songs.

It is pretty much the same story in Singapore. Music chain That CD Shop said it is ordering more of Lambert's albums as it predicts the initial order of 50 pieces will not be enough to meet demand.

'More customers are coming in to ask for Adam Lambert's album rather than Kris Allen's,' said a spokesman.

Mr Chris Ng, operations manager for another music retailer, Gramophone, said: 'There were more reservations for Lambert's CD than for Kris' at every one of our seven stores.'

He said Allen sold about 130 copies within a week of his album's release and Lambert sold nearly 70 copies in the first three days alone.

Veteran singer-songwriter Dick Lee agreed with the fans, saying he preferred Lambert's electro-rock album to Allen's more subdued offering.

He praised For Your Entertainment for being 'stylish and distinctive' with a sound that 'completely reflects his persona'. 'Most of the songs have a rock edge reminiscent of Queen,' he added, referring to the widely popular English rock band.

But he was less enthusiastic about Allen's debut: 'Musically, Kris is bland and too generic to convey any depth. He just doesn't stand out and doesn't say anything musically.'

Life! asked home-grown indie band singer Jonathan Chan of Plainsunset, music critic Yeow Kai Chai and singing coach Babes Conde to rate both albums. And the verdict is...

---------> Jonathan Chan, 34, lead singer-guitarist of Plainsunset

On Kris Allen:

'His album is extremely radio-friendly and very pop. That's a big plus for him, so it might do well.'
That was the verdict of Jonathan Chan, the self-confessed 'anti-pop' frontman of alternative band Plainsunset.

While he praised Allen's vocal range, he found the delivery 'contrived' at times and felt the American Idol winner was 'trying to fit into a certain mould'.

Chan reserved his biggest criticism for what he felt was Allen's compromise on his own style and personality, labelling him 'the ultimate American Idol product'.

'Allen's got some talent, but he's actually lost who he genuinely is, and instead listened to the feedback that the judges gave him,' he said.

While previous American Idol champs such as Ruben Studdard (season 2) and Fantasia Barrino (season 3) managed to retain their personalities, Chan noted that other American Idols tended to become a 'mish-mash of everything' in their attempt to 'cover all the genres'.

His advice to Allen: 'Forget public opinion, just do your own thing.'

That said, he wryly noted: 'Statistically, albums from previous Idols end up in the discount bin after a few months.'

Lyrics: 3/5
Delivery/vocal performance: 4/5
Melody/music: 4/5
Originality: 2/5
Total score: 13/20


.
On Adam Lambert:

Chan was a lot more complimentary of Lambert's album: 'It's a lot more polished in terms of production and seems to be more flamboyant, with a bit more variety.'

He noted the 'very strong Queen influence' in Lambert's music. The first track, Music Again, 'totally reminds me of Freddie Mercury with its many, many layers of vocals', he added.

Lambert performed with Queen members Roger Taylor and Brian May in the season finale of American Idol.

Chan said that while Lambert's album is also 'fairly radio-friendly', he leaves a 'stronger impression and has more personality' than Allen. He also felt that Lambert has a 'much broader' vocal range.
There is a caveat: He observed that Lambert's sound is 'more electronic' than Allen's and is 'very reminiscent of clubbing'.

He added: 'You don't know if the electronic production is meant to hide any flaws in his voice. Electronica tends to hide your voice if you're not careful in the production.'

His verdict: 'I won't say Adam is more talented, but he is a bit more bold, a bit more interested in trying something different. If people give his album a fair try, I don't think it will do badly.'

Lyrics: 3.5/5
Delivery/vocal performance: 4.5/5
Melody/music: 4/5
Originality: 3/5
Total score: 15/20

.

----------> Yeow Kai Chai, 41, music critic

On Kris Allen:

'The lyrics on Allen's album are more heartfelt and you get more feel about what he's going through,' said music critic Yeow Kai Chai.

He was impressed by Allen's effort at keeping his album original, as he wrote nine of the 13 tracks in his self-titled album. Lambert wrote only four of the 14 tracks.

He felt that although Allen does not have a wide range of vocals as compared to Lambert, he 'definitely knows what he is good at, which is sincerity'.

'When Allen sings his lines, he is opening himself to you. You have no doubt that that's what he means and he's not putting on a performance as much as Lambert,' said Yeow, who is Life!'s English pop music critic as well as the editor of the English-Chinese freesheet, My Paper.

He described Allen's style as 'safe and approachable' and 'everybody's favourite boy-next-door who will appeal to your grandma and little nieces'.

'He's cute, he's married, he represents the value system of mainstream America,' he added.
However, he predicted that Allen might make less of an impact in the long run. 'He doesn't stand out. I really want to like him but I cannot remember anything about him. He doesn't have a unique selling point.'

Lyrics: 3/5
Delivery/vocal performance: 3.5/5
Melody/music: 2.5/5
Originality: 2/5
Total score: 11/20


.

On Adam Lambert:

Yeow was more excited by Lambert's star-studded collaborations on his debut album. They include chart-toppers such as Lady Gaga, Pink and Justin Hawkins, the former lead singer and guitarist of rock band The Darkness.

He said: 'Almost every song is very radio-friendly. Lambert knows what is commercial and popular at the moment. Musically, he is edgier than Allen.'

He praised Lambert's strong vocals and ability to reel it in for the slower, more emotional tracks such as Time For Miracles, his debut single. 'He knows how to hold his vocals in yet bring them up to a climax,' said Yeow.

Lyrically, Lambert has an edge over Allen because of the quirky rhymes in his songs. For example, Yeow said the lyrics from Lambert's fourth track Strut stand out with catchy lines such as: 'I want to start a revolution/A type of personal solution/We all have got our own pollution/It's all about the execution.'

'It's cheesy, it's fun, it doesn't pretend to be anything else. You remember Lambert's lyrics more,' he said.

But aside from the clubby and electro-sounds, Yeow said the lyrics in Lambert's songs make him sound 'almost like a politician' with plans to stir up the music scene.

'You know he's very ambitious. He wants to make an impact and change the music industry.'

Lyrics: 3.5/5
Delivery/vocal performance: 3.5/5
Melody/music: 3
Originality: 3.5/5
Total score: 13.5/20

.

----------> Babes Conde, vocal coach

On Kris Allen:

'Generic' is veteran vocal coach Babes Conde's summary of Allen's album.

While she felt that he was 'consistent with his rock-sounding vocals', she also found his arrangements to be rather run-of-the-mill.

Tracks such as Can't Stay Away and Alright With Me are undoubtedly accessible, with a sense of 'hook', she said. Yet as a whole, the album has nothing to write home about, she added.
'It doesn't have anything new or fresh in terms of melody or arrangements,' she lamented.

Nevertheless, between the two albums, she still picked Allen's as 'the one I would recommend to friends'.

Lyrics: 3/5
Delivery/vocal performance: 3/5
Melody/music: 3/5
Originality: 3/5
Total score: 12/20


.

On Adam Lambert:

Unlike the other judges in this story, Condes was even less impressed by Lambert's album, mainly because his music and arrangements lack 'contrast and sensitivity', two qualities she always looks out for in music.

As with Allen's album, she also dismissed Lambert's For Your Entertainment as 'generic', saying it had nothing 'fresh or new' to offer.

The 'Queen influence' on Lambert was also apparent to her.

'If I didn't know it was Adam's album, it could have passed for a Lady Gaga CD.'

She did concede, though, that her lack of enthusiasm for both albums might have to do with her being 'a high-maintenance critical listener'.

Lyrics: 2/5
Delivery/vocal performance: 4/5
Melody/music: 3/5
Originality: 2/5
Total score: 11/20


.

Who has the better album? Write to stlife@sph.com.sg

Please READ & EMAIL THEM!! And post your email here! Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Idols' battle of debut CDs - Adam vs Kris on The Straits Times!!   Sat 28 Nov 2009, 1:50 pm

Here are the Newspaper scans! I had to break up the pages cos I just do not have that big a scanner!

Enjoy!!



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PostSubject: Re: Idols' battle of debut CDs - Adam vs Kris on The Straits Times!!   Sat 28 Nov 2009, 7:12 pm

This is my email to Straits Times:

Adam Lambert's electro-rock/pop album versus Kris Allen's singer-songwriter cred music - how do you judge two very different artists? They are apples & oranges! I am an avowed Adam Lambert fan – a Singapore Glambert – and I must say, I am NOT disappointed with Lambert’s album! I find Lambert’s album wonderfully fun, great to listen and rock to. Its modern glam pop rock and veritably so Adam! I will refrain from commenting on Allen’s album as, apart from his single – Live Like You Are Dying- I have not heard the rest of his tracks.

Lambert is a free-spirited 'hippie' (as he recently called himself in a radio interview) whose musical influences included the 1960s and 1970s rock and roll; and musical theatre in general. Factor in his years running in the Los Angeles club scene and you have a singer who can draw from very eclectic sources for his album.

His album really has something for everyone – from dance tracks to emotional ballads to pop rock tunes. Yet, there is, somehow a cohesive modern sound to the album. Perhaps its Lambert – he ties each unique song together with his great vocal range and singing, making his debut album eclectic yet not schizophrenic.

His single ‘For Your Entertainment’ is a sexy, double- entendre, while ‘Whataya Want From Me’ is an moving plea for understanding and patience (that is very fitting to his situation after his controversial AMAs performance). The rocking pop ‘Music Again’ is fun and infectious; and ‘Fever’, written by Lady Gaga, is catchy and cheeky! For emotional catharsis, ‘Broken Open’ is Lambert’s most vulnerable song (he co-wrote this song) and it’s heartfelt and moving. Muse’s contribution, ‘Soaked’, reminds us of one of Lambert’s heros – Queen – with its operatic opening and dramatic ups and downs.

This is a great modern pop rock album that I think clearly demonstrates Lambert’s glowing, bright future! I cannot wait to see him perform ‘live’ in his own tour!
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