An Album A Day: Week 2

I know, January isn’t even over and I’m already behind on blogging. That being said, I’ve still been listening to an album everyday and haven’t broken any rules, there’s just a bit of a backlog on the blogging. Hopefully I’ll get that sorted out in the next couple weeks.

January 7, 19 by Adele

Adele - 19.png

Genre: Like a jazzy, cabaret pop.
Year: 2008
Runtime: 43:41
Total Number of Tracks: 12
Number of tracks I had heard before: I swear I had listened to this album in full prior to this project, but I only remember “Chasing Pavements” and “Hometown Glory.”
Why I picked it: I needed to fall asleep and it seemed like it could be a good album for falling asleep, in a good way.
Cohesiveness score: 3/5
Average song score: 3.1/5

Singles you might know:
– “Chasing Pavements”
– “Make You Feel My Love”
– “Hometown Glory”

Songs that stand out for the right reasons:
– “Cold Shoulder”
– “Right As Rain”
– “Hometown Glory”

“Cold Shoulder” is probably the song that best foreshadows the type of stuff we’d hear on Adele’s subsequent 21 album that really made her a superstar, and I prefer that motown-esque vibe to the more stripped down sound of many other 19 songs. Like a lot of Adele’s work, this song excels at taking influence from vintage music and doing it in a way that still feels modern and not gimmicky.

“Right As Rain” barely squeaked into the top songs list despite it not standing out after the first several listens. However, it possesses a lot of those same vintage qualities that make “Cold Shoulder” so good. I also love how “Right As Rain” offers a delightful middle ground between that coffeehouse open mic night sound and that full band/orchestra sound. I think the album as a whole would have really benefitted from an extra song or two in this vein.

“Hometown Glory” is heartfelt and has fresh lyrics, and it’s also the perfect amount of production: enough of an orchestral sound to enhance Adele’s beautiful vocals without overshadowing them.

Songs that stand out for the wrong reasons: None.

Songs that don’t stand out at all: As I was listening to the album trying to give each of these songs an individual song score, I accidentally forgot to write down a score for “Melt My Heart to Stone,” which is Track 6. I realized my error while listening to “Right as Rain” which is Track 8. No big deal, I’ll just write the score late, right? EXCEPT I COULD NOT REMEMBER HOW “MELT MY HEART TO STONE” WENT JUST TWO SONGS LATER. And mind you this wasn’t the first time listening, this was after playing it probably close to 10 times over the course of 2ish weeks and I could remember how most other songs on the album went. If that doesn’t scream “songs that don’t stand out at all” I don’t know what does.

Do I recommend it: There’s a rawness to this album that doesn’t exist on Adele’s other albums, and it’s interesting to see that different side of her. If you’re into stripped down songs that are just a strong vocal and one or two other instruments, there’s a lot to love here. If that’s not you, then this isn’t something I think you really need to listen to all the way through unless you really love Adele. There’s no denying her talent as both a songwriter and vocalist, but after she proved what she was fully capable of with 21, it’s hard to not be a little bit bored with 19. 

January 8, 21 by Adele

Genre: Pop, with a soul/motown vibe.
Year: 2011
Runtime: 48:12
Total number of tracks: 11
Number of tracks I had heard before: Again, I’m fairly confident I HAD listened to this whole album before but I’d forgotten any track other than the four that got played everywhere for 2 years.
Why I picked it: Listening to 19 made me want to explore Adele’s whole discography.
Cohesiveness score: 5/5
Average song score: 3.7/5

Singles you might know: 
– “Rolling in the Deep”
– “Rumour Has It”
– “Set Fire to the Rain”
– “Someone Like You”

Songs that stand out for the right reasons:
– “Turning Tables”
– “I’ll Be Waiting”
– “Someone Like You”

“Turning Tables” was a pleasant surprise, and much like “Someone Like You,” it perfectly captures the sentiments of trying to stay strong while still feeling incredibly vulnerable.

I’m actually really mad at myself for not realizing how amazing  “I’ll Be Waiting” is prior to this project. I honestly enjoy it better than the singles, and I still really like all the singles.

Songs that stand out for the wrong reasons: There aren’t any.

Songs that don’t stand out at all: I could probably skip “Don’t You Remember” without noticing, but it’s still an amazing song.

Do I recommend it: Yes. This is one of those rare albums where damn near every song can stand on its own two feet and could’ve been a hit single. Yet at the same time, there’s still enough changes in tempo and mood to keep the album as a whole interesting.

January 9, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles


The Beatles, holding marching band instruments and wearing colourful uniforms, stand near a grave covered with flowers that spell "Beatles". Standing behind the band are several dozen famous people.Genre: 
A psychedelic soft rock I guess?
Year: 1967
Runtime: 39:52
Total Number of Tracks: 13, including a 1:19 reprise of the title song.
Number of tracks I had heard before: All of them
Why I picked it: A reader mentioned the Beatles when I announced the project and this has always been one of their more intriguing albums to me.
Cohesiveness score: 3/5
Average song score:
2.9/5

 

Singles You Might Know*:
– “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”
– “With A Little Help From My Friends”
– “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”
– “When I’m Sixty-Four”

*Technically, none of the songs on this album were released as singles until 1978. This is just my guess as to which songs modern audiences are most likely to recognize.

Songs that stand out for the right reasons:
– “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”
– “Fixing A Hole”
– “Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite”
– “Good Morning Good Morning”

The title track revs you up the way that the first track of an album is supposed to. There’s a great energy that gets you excited about what’s to come but with more originality and complexity than some of the Beatles’ equally energetic earlier material.

“Fixing a Hole” was perhaps one of the biggest surprises for me, in terms of songs I really enjoyed but was previously unfamiliar with. This along with “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” balance the catchy hooks of McCartney with the more trippy hippy experimental vibes of Lennon the way a true collaboration should. I also love the brass on “Good Morning Good Morning” (think Chicago’s “Saturday in the Park” but if the Beatles did it.)

Songs that stand out for the wrong reasons: I can’t think of any.

Songs that don’t stand out at all: I can’t say I really remember “She’s Leaving Home” but I don’t remember disliking it either.

Cohesiveness score: 3/5

Do I recommend it: Yes! I thought this was definitely a great example of an album where there’s a lot of cool, interesting stuff happening beyond the most popular tracks. There’s a reason it’s gone down in history the way it has. That being said, most of these are songs I would never really go out of my way to listen to on their own. I definitely recommend listening to this as the album it was intended to be.

January 10, Up All Night by One Direction

One direction up all night albumcover.jpg

Genre: Bubblegum pop
Year: 2011
Runtime: 45:56
Total Number of Tracks: 13
Number of tracks I had heard before: 13, and I’ve also heard the two bonus tracks I didn’t care to listen to this time around.
Why I picked it: I realized that for the sake of this blog I needed an album I know well and could write about without listening too many times.
Cohesiveness score: 6/5
Average song score: 3.2/5

 

Singles you might know:
“What Makes You Beautiful”
“Gotta Be You”
“One Thing”

Songs that stand out for the right reasons:
“Tell Me A Lie”
“Taken”
“I Want”

“Tell Me a Lie” was actually written by Kelly Clarkson and sounds like some of her most popular songs. Compared to the rest of this album, it’s a slightly more mature pop song with slightly more creative lyrics. It’s a breath of fresh air without being so different that it feels out of place.

“Taken” and “I Want” also feel a little more mature and the emotion feels a little more authentic. One of the drawbacks to overly pop-oriented boy band music is that virtually all of it is about being in love with whoever the song is about. Even the sad songs tend to be about missing someone they’re still in love with rather than being angry or frustrated about being mistreated. “Taken” and “I Want” are the few exceptions to that rule and provide some much needed lyrical variety. “Taken” is also the only acoustic track making it one of the few that shows how well some of these boys could sing.

Songs that stand out for the wrong reasons: While it’s still a guilty pleasure song for me personally, “Stole My Heart” is objectively bad. It’s trying to be a techno-y dance club anthem while still trying to maintain a PG rating and being too bubblegum-y to work.

Songs that don’t stand out at all: “I Wish” and “Same Mistakes” tend to get lost in the mix for me.

Do I recommend it: If you didn’t like “What Makes You Beautiful” I’m doubtful that you’ll like this album, though I might still refer you to my top three tracks. If you did like “What Makes You Beautiful” there’s a fair chance you’ve already listened to this album and my opinion is irrelevant to you.

January 11, Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell by Meatloaf

Genre: Theatric hard rock
Year: 1993
Runtime: 75:38
Total Number of Tracks: 11, including a 2:41 spoken word piece and a 2:46 instrumental interlude.
Number of tracks I had heard before:  All of them.
Why I picked it: Again, I needed an album I was familiar with and I had a long enough car trip to justify this masterpiece.
Cohesiveness score: 4/5
Average song score: 3.8/5

 

Singles you might know:
– “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)”

Songs that stand out for the right reasons:
– “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)”
– “Out of the Frying Pan (and into the Fire)”
– “Everything Louder Than Everything Else”
– “Good Girls Go to Heaven (But Bad Girls Go Everywhere)”

These long-ass epic rock anthems are what sets Bat Out of Hell albums apart from anything else I’ve heard in music. Without them, it’s no longer a Bat Out of Hell album. Totaling 34:27, these four tracks could be an album all on their own, and a lot of times I skip around and treat them as such.

Songs that stand out for the wrong reasons: The album could’ve definitely done without the spoken word track “Wasted Youth.” I’m not fundamentally against incorporating spoken word into music albums, but I feel like it’s really hard to do just one track of it without it feeling a little bit disruptive. I love the following track “Everything Louder Than Everything Else” and I can’t say that listening to that song without the spoken word lead up affects it in an adverse way.

Songs that don’t stand out at all:
– “Back Into Hell”
– “Lost Boys And Golden Girls”

Maybe it’s just because they’re among the shorter tracks, but you could omit either one and I don’t think the album would be worse off for it.

Do I recommend it: I love this album to hell and back (yeah, I said it). I gave all four of my top songs a 5/5 rating and frankly it’s rare to find an album with four songs that I love that much. Even the other songs are all still really good, albeit many of them are longer than they probably need to be.

January 12, 5150 by Van Halen

Genre: Classic rock
Year: 1986
Runtime: 43:14
Total Number of Tracks: 9
Number of tracks I had heard before: All of them.
Why I picked it: I had stayed up watching football and needed an album that was barely over the half hour limit so I could get it in before midnight.
Cohesiveness score: 3/5
Average song score: 3.3/5

 

Singles you might know:
– “Why Can’t This Be Love”
– “Dreams”
– “Love Walks In”

Songs that stand out for the right reasons:
– “Why Can’t This Be Love”
– “Dreams”
– “Love Walks In”
– “5150”

As far as I’m concerned, the real strength of this album is its ability to show a softer, more emotional side of Van Halen while still feeling like a true rock album. These are the songs that do that.

Songs that stand out for the wrong reasons: While I wouldn’t really say “Inside” is a BAD song, it does sound just different enough from anything else on the album to feel like it doesn’t truly belong here. This is made even more frustrating by the fact that it’s the last song and the preceding title track would’ve been a far better finale.

Songs that don’t stand out at all: Maybe it’s just because there’s fewer songs on here, but this is actually the first one I’ve reviewed where I really don’t think any of them fall into that forgettable filler category.

Do I recommend it: This is one where listening to my favorite songs on their own is a better experience than listening to the album as a whole. The shallow, just-for-fun rock songs here are okay, but if you’re in that mood you could also just listen to Roth-era Van Halen and get shallow, just-for-fun rock songs that are superior.

January 13, Bat Out of Hell by Meatloaf

Futuristic motorcycle rider; the motorcycle has jet exhaust. A bat-like figure on the tower of a building.Genre: Theatric hard rock.
Year: 1977
Runtime: 46:33
Total Number of Tracks: 7, including two epic “suites” that are over 8 minutes long.
Number of tracks I had heard before: 7
Why I picked it: I felt like it would be fun to do this the same week as Bat Out of Hell II to compare.
Cohesiveness score: 4/5
Average song score: 3.6/5

 

Singles you might know:
– “You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)”
– “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad”
– “Paradise By the Dashboard Light”

Songs that stand out for the right reasons:
“Bat Out Of Hell”
“Paradise By the Dashboard Light”

As mentioned above, when I’m in mood to listen to a Bat Out of Hell album, it’s because I’m in the mood for long-ass epics that give me the drama of musical theater but the edginess of rock music, and these are the two that fit into that category. Honestly, outside of these two songs, I find most of this album to be fairly forgettable.

Songs that stand out for the wrong reasons: N/A

Songs that don’t stand out at all:
– “Heaven Can Wait”
– “For Crying Out Loud”

Do I recommend it: Yes. Even the songs that aren’t my favorites are still good albeit maybe a little more generic. I find these albums to be vastly underrated by my generation and if this blog can help change that it’s all worth it.

Other albums I listened to this week: 

Badlands by Halsey
Wide Open Spaces by Dixie Chicks
by Ed Sheeran