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By Robert Hilburn and Robert Hilburn,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | January 6, 2003
Bruce Springsteen's The Rising has been the odds-on favorite to win a Grammy for album of the year since advance copies began circulating in the record industry last spring. Not only is the veteran rocker long overdue for the Grammys' top honor, but The Rising is also a heartfelt reflection of the nation's resilience after the horrors of Sept. 11. A Springsteen victory would be a classic feel-good moment in the Grammy Awards ceremony, which will be held Feb. 23 in New York. But don't start etching Springsteen's name on a statuette yet. Two other albums likely to be named in the category when the nominations are announced tomorrow had enough impact to emerge as serious challengers: Eminem's The Eminem Show and Norah Jones' Come Away With Me. Eminem's previous collection, The Marshall Mathers LP, deserved the best album award two years ago, but the violent, sometimes ugly side of the rap provocateur's music no doubt made many recording academy members feel uncomfortable giving him the Grammy seal of approval.
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FEATURES
By Rashod D. Ollison and Rashod D. Ollison,Sun pop music critic | April 29, 2008
Which came first, Madonna's image or her music? In her 25-year career, the pop superstar's ever-changing look and provocations garnered more critical attention than her musical output. Yet in that time, she managed to score major hits and sell 200 million albums around the world. There's no question that her morphing image, which used to be surprising and daring, helped sell her music. Although her albums were often calculated appropriations of musical sub-genres, they used to offer thrills.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Sheryl Hunter and Sheryl Hunter,THE HARTFORD COURANT | January 29, 2004
We can thank George W. Bush for helping Rickie Lee Jones get her career back on track. The Evening of My Best Day, Jones' first album of original material since 1997's experimental trip-hop oddity Ghostyhead, is easily her strongest release since her celebrated self-titled debut in 1979. Back then, Jones was heralded as the next Joni Mitchell, but her career over the past 20 years has largely been one of unfulfilled potential. After Ghostyhead, she took a six-year break from songwriting; then along came George II. Angry with Bush and his policies, she picked up her pen and directed her fury at the president on the disc's opener, "Ugly Man."
FEATURES
By Eric R. Danton and Eric R. Danton,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | November 12, 2002
It would be nice to say Johnny Cash sounds as good as he ever did. But he doesn't. Years of hard living as a young man and recent life-threatening illnesses have ravaged his unmistakable baritone, leaving him so short of breath at times that he was barely able to record vocal tracks on his new album, American IV: The Man Comes Around. Yet Cash persevered, and parts are, quite simply, stunning. The high points are among the highest of Cash's legendary career, and though the album ends up leaning a bit too heavily on comfortable standards, even the throwaway moments are often more gripping than many artists can ever hope to achieve.
NEWS
By ERIKA NIEDOWSKI and ERIKA NIEDOWSKI,SUN FOREIGN REPORTER | June 19, 2006
MOSCOW -- A new album here paints a scene on its cover reminiscent of a 1960s Beach Boys' record: a brilliant red-and-gold sunset behind a man wearing a lei. But the sun is setting over a prison wall, the man is Josef Stalin and the lei is made of skulls. Gulag Tunes, the brainchild of a part-time musician who works at a hospital morgue in Moscow, does what perhaps no other album has done before: mixes the melodies of traditional Russian prison songs with the distinctive sound of the "surf" genre.
FEATURES
By J.D. Considine and J.D. Considine,Pop Music Critic | July 4, 1993
Huge. Immense. Enormous. Oversized. Monumental.By the end of last summer's "Zoo TV Outside Broadcast" tour, those were the words most rock fans had begun to associate with U2. And no wonder. Having already proved itself a major draw on the concert circuit, the band seemed determined to inflate every aspect of its existence, from the information overload of its live show to the ironic excess of its media image.Big wasn't big enough for this band; U2 wanted more. So when the band announced its new deal with Island Records, the figure floated was some $200 million -- more than Madonna, more than Michael Jackson, more than the Rolling Stones.
FEATURES
By RASHOD D. OLLISON and RASHOD D. OLLISON,SUN POP MUSIC CRITIC | March 21, 2006
Can you really call it a comeback? Prince has never gone anywhere. So what if in the past decade, his albums were painfully bloated, convoluted affairs that only his most devoted fans cared about? He spent a big chunk of that time fighting bitterly and publicly with Warner Bros. (the label that nurtured his early career) over the ownership of his music. The eccentric, pint-sized superstar paraded around much of that time with the word "slave" scrawled across his face - an undeniably overdone gesture.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Rashod D. Ollison and Rashod D. Ollison,Sun Pop Music Critic | August 23, 2007
When Jasiel Robinson was growing up in Atlanta, he learned much about running a business from his father, who owned a hair-care products company. Years later when Robinson became platinum-selling rapper Yung Joc, he applied the same progressive business acumen to his career in hip-hop. It's not just about making music. "You have a recognizable name and face and a credible reputation. You can relate all that to building financial wealth," says Joc, who plays 1st Mariner Arena tomorrow night as part of Screamfest '07, which also stars fellow Atlanta rapper T.I and R&B-pop princess Ciara.
NEWS
By Jim Farber and Jim Farber,New York Daily News | May 20, 2007
No one ever accused Rufus Wainwright of having a taste for understatement. The singer staked his reputation on constructing pop songs that sound like they were meant to be bellowed at the Met. Frilly orchestrations, soaring choruses and high-strung lyrics run rampant in his music. He's no different in conversation. Talk to Wainwright about his new Album, Release the Stars, and he'll blithely declare it "an Olympic feat." Get into his personal life and he'll describe himself, by turns, as being "a romantic Victorian poet, heartbreaker-type" and "a Judy Garland opera queen."
FEATURES
By Brad Barnes and Brad Barnes,KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE | December 12, 2002
The Backstreet Boys are apparently content to ride in the back seat for a while. 'N Sync might be permanently out of sync, with Justin Timberlake going solo. But just when you might be tempted to write off all the boy bands to puberty, in comes B2K. The group is younger and more playful than the others. It's arguably closer to R&B's roots - hey, they're black. And when B2K's album debuted eight months ago, it came roaring out with record sales and radio play. A Christmas album, Santa Hooked Me Up, came out in October.
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