Monday, December 12, 2005

Real-time CD Reviews: Bo Bice, "The Real Thing"

I'm feeling daring this evening. So how about a review of the latest CD by an American Idol contestant?

You know, I've always thought that Bice had a great vocal talent. The growly twang of southern rock. Some would call this a liability, but I think this is Bice's strength. He definitely can make it work. Like the whole long-hair-and-beard thing. Okay, bad analogy.

(I'm starting this during the second track of the album. The first cut was the title track, and it was predictable for a rock ballad.)

"You're Everything." It's not bad, necessarily. It's energetic. But it just sounds so average. Routine. Unoriginal. What does the AOL page say? "...paired the singer with the songwriting talents of Jon Bon Jovi and Nickelback's Chad Kroeger." Well, that certainly explains it.

"U Make Me Better." And illiterate, apparently. Instead of commenting on the song itself, which is not that awful, I feel the need to declare a moratorium on all songs that have single-letters-representing-words in the titles. (I'm looking at you, Miss Clarkson.) "Let me take you home tonight!" he sings. Okay, now, wait a sec--is that "you" or "U"? Is it code? I'm so confused. Nevermind, this song bathes in mediocrity.

"Nothing Without You." Not "U"? MAKE UP YOUR MIND, MAN!!! Anyway. Have I mentioned that this album was written by Bon Jovi and that guy from Nickelback? Because IT SOUNDS LIKE IT. And that's not necessarily a complement. I don't know. If you like the formulaic radio-rock songs with the power-chord heavy "loud ballad" sound that suddenly drop to the quiet, almost-a cappella bridge before screaming the last line and ripping the chorus reprise, then I guess this song/album is your bag.

"My World." My God. Even the song titles are uninspired. "Love is all around you, the universe is full, but in my world, there is only you." ACH! MY EARS! THE BLOOD! OH, MOTHER, THE BLOOD! "He's your everything." But then again, three songs ago, "you" were everything. So I guess, everyone's everything. Sweeet.

"Remember Me." The verse starts off kinda interesting sonically. I like the melody and the way he plays with it. ...Then BAM with the rote chorus. The downward stair-stepping chord pattern (you musical types will have to forgive me for not knowing the proper terminology). And then the "Whooooooaaaaaa" over about four measures (I know that term, music nerds! HA!). "Remember me, how I made you laugh, till I made you cry, about everything, so never forgeeeeettttt!!!" I swear, with all the uses of the word "everything" in this album, you could make it a drinking game, except that everyone would be plastered by...

"Hold On To Me." The referee holds up his arm and blows the whistle. "Bice, two minutes, for Nickelback-ing." ("Nickelback-ing": Unnecessary repetition; overuse of 'whoa'; combining keyboards/organ with over-wrought, cliched lyrics; producing radio-friendly, shallow, knock-off "rock.")

"Lie...It's Alright." Someone buy this man a dictionary, PLEASE? Two words, Bo--"all" and "right." And what's with the background vocals run through the bullhorn in certain parts? Did J.D. Fortune offer to sing back-up? Ugh. If the last song was put in the penalty box for Nickelback-ing, this one should take a seat also, for "Crushing." ("Crushing": Emulating later Bon Jovi songs through the use of faux-rock-riffs during the verses before deflating into an uninspired, power ballad chorus with lots of held-out notes.) The only thing that kept the two-minute penalty from being a five-minute major for Crushing was the lack of the "mowowow" guitar solo during the bridge.

[Full Disclosure: Had to listen to that track twice to make sure the Crushing penalty was properly assessed.]

(C'mon, Bo, gimme something positive to say. I still believe in you.)

"It's My Life." *SNORT* Heh. Nice. Subtle, Jon. "It's my life, my time to find the answers..." Mm-hmm. Standard "take time to smell the roses" ballad with painfully earnest lyrics. "Sometimes I miss my family, I wonder what they're doing right now." Hmm. Hopefully listening to Sufjan Stevens and not swearing they don't know you. Kidding aside, this track wasn't as bad as the others. Weak praise, that.

"Willing to Try." Uh oh, beware the single piano. If he says "I'll be there for you," I swear I'll die. Ah, here comes the familiarly loud tones of the rock accompaniment. ("Here I go" count: 4, currently.) "I'm not gonna change who I am, but I ain't gonna give up the fight..." Ouch. Take that, haters. (Cliche check: "when it's all said and done," "come of age," "we only get one life," "if you believe in me") Oooh, BACK to the single piano for four measures of the chorus reprise, and then he SHOCKS us with the slam-bang rock-out of the last two choruses.

"Valley of Angels." What is this? This doesn't sound at all like a Bon Jovi/Nickelback title. And the song itself? Piano only for the first verse and chorus, choral "ooh"-ing behind the chorus and background repetition and response during the second verse. The lyrics aren't brilliant, but they're not noxious. There is a small guitar solo for a bridge. But this song actually is halfway decent. The reason? Instead of beating it to death as a power ballad, they "took it to church" a bit, gave it some sway. Well done, Bo. Despite evil outside influences, this song didn't suck. Hoo-rah.

Final Judgement: Too much Bon Jovi/Kroeger-inspired lameness corrupts another young singer. Bo is a great vocalist, who needs to either figure out how to write his own music (and)/or find a better collaborator. Out of five stars, I give this a solid two--one because I like Bo's voice and the other because of the last track. I think I'm being generous... You know what? I am. Half-star deduction for the appalling song-titles. So there you are, kids. 1.5/5

No comments: