Iggy Azalea – “The New Classic”

(Photo Credit: NME)

Grade: C+

Key Tracks: “Walk the Line” “Fuck Love”

So let’s get this out of the way: it’s tough to tell who Iggy Azalea is, and who she’s trying to be. The white, Australian-born young woman channels Southern and Western American hip-hop in her music. Azalea has, for a while, been attempting to adopt a heavy rap persona. But it often feels forced, as it should for a persona whose very basis is this questionable.

“The New Classic” is not a consistent album. Opener “Walk the Line” is almost a call to arms, with Azalea’s vigorous and incendiary rapping. But it’s a momentum that isn’t kept up. A majority of the album is hybrid trap music and dance-pop, often midtempo tracks that range from great to dull. “New Bitch” has a surprisingly personal and reflective rhythm, even if the lyrics don’t match. But it’s followed by “Work,” a song very similar in tone but frustratingly less interesting. “Fuck Love” is an ending as intense as the opener, serving as strong bookends for the album, but what’s in between is wildly inconsistent.

Azalea is a talented rapper, accurately channeling her southern influences. Usually she’s forceful and dominating, but she’s introspective when she needs to be. It usually fits the music, which defies genres on some songs. “Fancy,” with Charli XCX, is almost a straight dance-pop song, where tracks like “Change Your Life” (with T.I.), is a cross between trap music and traditional hip-hop. “Goddess” is a straightforward song, but one that builds to an unexpectedly big climax.

But these crossovers don’t really fit with each other, and these better songs are bogged down with some overlong songs and some tepid ideas. The album’s inconsistency is it’s biggest fault, and one that keeps it from living up to it’s title. And knowing Azalea’s past and her attempted image, it doesn’t feel real, even if it occasionally sounds like it should. “The New Classic” marks Azalea as a talented force in hip-hop, but it also questions what exactly her placement should be.

-By Andrew McNally

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Robin Thicke – “Blurred Lines”

(Photo Credit: Rolling Stone)

Grade: D+

Key Tracks: “Take It Easy On Me”

“Growing Pains” indeed. “Blurred Lines” comes out as Thicke is 36, with a three year old son. The album is distinctly more pop-based than his previous albums, showing a backwards trend in songwriting, possible an effort to hold onto the immaturity needed to be a successful pop singer. The result is a bland pop album that suffices as a summer party mix, but is lacking in originality, effective lyrics, big beats and really anything to make it memorable.

Thicke’s inspiration for the album came from growing up under the impression that everything was black and white, right and wrong, etc, but realizing how untrue it is once you grow older. This could really be a strong concept for an album, one that could really show growth for a musician. What Thicke delivers, though, is ego-centric songs of love, sex and passion whose only difference from other pop songs of the last thirty years is Thicke forcibly pushing his ego into them, which ultimately just makes him sound like the massive dick he claims to have.

On some of the album’s more subdued moments, Thicke’s voice is pleasantly pretty, something he didn’t eschew for a pop album. And the collaborations, with Pharrell, T.I. and Kendrick Lamar among the guest spots, often work well to make some balanced songs. Every track on the album falls flat because of the overused and sometimes vainly vapid lyrics. Musically, too, the album is boring. Thicke tries to mix R&B, latin and pop influences, but the result is the blandest parts of all three. The album needs a lot more oomph, and maybe some musicians that at least to try to care about the music they’re recording. “Blurred Lines” is an alright summer album, and will surely be played at pool parties for the rest of the summer. It does it’s job on the most fundamental level, nothing beyond that. And by next summer, all people will remember is the title track and it’s racy (read: horribly sexist) video.

In conclusion, a .gif from the “Blurred Lines” video, courtesy of Tumblr. user jhermann. Click on it to see his phenomenal dance moves, ones that sum up the awkward masculinity of the whole album:

If you like this, try: Really can’t help you on this one.

-By Andrew McNally