Caroline the Future Librarian

Caroline Davis | LIBR 265-10 | SJSU | Wrenn-Estes

Animal by Ke$ha

Title: Animal
Artist: Ke$ha
Label: RCA Records
Date: January 2010
Number of Tracks: 14
UPC: 886974920922

Summary: Animal is a collection of fast paced dance anthems from the singer Ke$ha. The chart topping lead single, “TiK ToK” is about the party lifestyle – staying out all night drinking and dancing.  The single “Blah Blah Blah” is meant to be subversive and question gender roles – it explicitly talks about men in the same way that women are treated by male singers (for instance, with the lyric “Just show me where your d***’s at”).  Her latest single, “Your Love is My Drug,” which Ke$ha reportedly wrote in ten minutes on an airplane, is lyrically what the title claims it is – a love song that proclaims that her significant other is like a drug to her.  This sentiment is echoed in the song “Stephen,” about her feelings for a guy who has a girlfriend – she sings “You’re my object of affection/My drug of choice/My sick obsession.”  The relationship-as-substance metaphor is carried over into her song “Hungover,” which is about the end of a relationship.

Critical Evaluation: I have to wonder what exactly Ke$ha is trying to say here.  She sings all these “bad girl” songs about partying and drugs, then says in interviews not to take her too seriously.  It seems to me that’s she’s trying hard to push this image of herself, but doesn’t back it up – and to me, she comes across as not genuine.  She has made these kind of ironic statements before, as even her stage name of Ke$ha with the dollar sign was created as a joke, since she recorded a hit song with “Flo Rida” yet didn’t have enough money to buy a taco (Source).

Some are offended by her references to drugs, although I almost wonder if these songs (particularly “Your Love is My Drug”) are actually anti-drug – by stating that this person is her drug, presumably she doesn’t need the real thing.  She has made subversive messages before, like in her song “Blah Blah Blah,” so maybe that’s her real point.  Or maybe she doesn’t have one.

Annotation: Ke$ha’s debut album Animal is full of danceable tracks and ballads, celebrating the partying lifestyle and relationships.

About the Artist: Kesha Rose Sebert, better known by her stage name Ke$ha, was born in Los Angeles, California in 1987.  She was raised by a single mother who was an aspiring singer and moved the family out to Nashville, Tennessee in 1991 to pursue a record deal.

In 2005, the Sebert family was on an episode of The Simple Life, the reality show featuring Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie.  Ke$ha earned her GED at the age of seventeen in order to move to Los Angeles and pursue music.  She got her start by singing backing vocals on songs like “Nothing in This World” by Paris Hilton and “Right Round” by Flo Rida, before being signed to RCA Records and producing her debut album, Animal.

Genre: Pop, Dance, Electronica

Curriculum Ties: N/A

Discussion Ideas:
1) Do people look at Ke$ha as a role model?  What if she says not to take her seriously?
2) Do you have a favorite song from this album?
3) Are we influenced by song lyrics to try things like alcohol, or can we just dance to them?

Interest Age: 12 and older

Challenge Issues: alcohol and drug references, sexual content, profanity

Challenge Defense Ideas:

• Become familiar with the CD and its content.

• Refer to the collection development policy of the library, if none, see here to develop one right away.

• Refer to reviews available for viewing on Amazon.com.

• Try to get reviews of the CD from teens who have listened to it.

Selection: I decided to review Ke$ha because her music is receiving a lot of exposure and topping the charts, and will appeal to a teen audience since the singer herself is only 23.

Extras:

Ke$ha’s official website.

Music Video for TiK ToK:

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May 14, 2010 Posted by | Music | , , | Leave a comment

My World 2.0 by Justin Bieber

Title: My World 2.0
Artist: Justin Bieber
Label: Island
Date: March 2010
Number of Tracks: 10
UPC: 602527335728

Summary: The second release of a two-part debut album (following My World, released in November 2009), My World 2.0 features ten R&B and pop tracks from young Canadian crooner Justin Bieber.  On the lead single, “Baby,” Bieber sings about finding his first love, and how she broke his heart.  This track also features a collaboration with the popular rap artist Ludacris.  The second single, “Somebody to Love” (unfortunately not a Queen cover) explains the topic in the title – Bieber sings about how he doesn’t need much, just someone that he can love.  Another hit song from the album, “Never Let You Go,” is a sweet tribute to young love and the belief that you will be with that person forever.  Likewise, the soulful song “U Smile” is about doing all that you can for the person you love, because when “you smile, I smile.”  With this strong release, it’s no surprise that Bieber is becoming such a popular presence on the music scene.

Critical Evaluation: Before listening to this album, I was only familiar with the lead single, “Baby,” which I frequently hear on the radio.  I don’t listen to much R&B, so I didn’t have many expectations going into it, but I didn’t expect to like it very much.  I have to say, Bieber was much better than I gave him credit for!  His vocal range, especially in the high treble notes, was impressive, and his tone was very clear.  In the same way that Taylor Swift’s Fearless chronicles the experience of high school and first love, Bieber’s songs are a tribute to young romance and heartbreak.  My favorite track was “U Smile,” and it seems that the experts agree with me: Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly called it “the best by far … a shimmery slice of Hall & Oates-style blue-eyed soul.” (Source) I don’t think I’ll be adding My World 2.0 to my personal collection, but I really did enjoy it and I’ll probably spend some time listening to it on the platform where it all began: Youtube.

Annotation: The latter part of Justin Bieber’s two-fold debut album is a strong follow-up with singles like “Baby” and “Somebody to Love.”  The Canadian singer croons some soulful R&B tracks, and collaborates with artists like Ludacris and Sean Kingston.

About the Artist: Justin Drew Bieber was born in Stratford, Ontario, in 1994.  Growing up, Bieber taught himself to play piano, guitar, drums, and trumpet.  When he was twelve, Bieber sang a cover of Ne-Yo’s song “So Sick” in a local singing competition, and his mother posted a video of his performance on Youtube.  She continued uploading videos of him singing for their friends and family to view, and his popularity began to grow.

A marketing executive clicked on one of Bieber’s videos accidentally while searching for a different singer, and was so impressed that he asked if Bieber could come to Atlanta, Georgia and record a demo.  While in Atlanta, Bieber had the chance to sing for the artist Usher, who arranged an audition with Island Records, who signed him to the label in October 2008.  Bieber and his mother now live in Atlanta.

Genre: R&B, Pop

Curriculum Ties: N/A

Discussion Ideas:
1) Is part of Justin Bieber’s popularity based on his Youtube origins?  Do fans feel as though they discovered him first?
2) How do you think this follow-up disc compares to the original My World release?

Interest Age: 12 and older

Challenge Issues: None.

Challenge Defense Ideas: This CD has no apparent challenge issues, but if a challenge comes up:

• Become familiar with the CD and its content.

• Refer to the collection development policy of the library, if none, see here to develop one right away.

• Refer to reviews available for viewing on Amazon.com.

• Try to get reviews of the CD from teens who have listened to it.

Selection: I wanted to include another artist that appeals to young adults, and chose Justin Bieber because of his age and the nature of his rise to fame through social media networks.

Extras:

Official website

Justin Bieber’s Youtube Channel

One of my favorite videos involving Justin Bieber:

May 9, 2010 Posted by | Music | , | Leave a comment

Fearless by Taylor Swift

Title: Fearless
Artist: Taylor Swift
Label: Big Machine Records
Date: November 2008
Number of Tracks: 13
UPC: 843930001378

Summary: The top selling album of 2009, Fearless, performed by Taylor Swift, is comprised of thirteen tracks that capture the emotions and dreams of high school relationships.  The lead single, “Love Story,” tells the story of a Romeo-and-Juliet pairing that met during a summer ball – but this couple is fated for matrimony, not fatality.  While this song expresses the feelings of falling in love, the song “White Horse” describes the end of a relationship and the realization that the dreams of being with this person are over.  The song “Fifteen” is semi-autobiographical about Swift’s first year of high school and helping a friend recover from a broken heart.  The song “You Belong With Me” describes having crush on a boy who is dating a cheerleader, and the hope that he will realize they are meant to be together.  Swift wrote the song “The Best Day” as a surprise for her mother, and the title track “Fearless” can be described as a thank-you letter to her fans (the music video has clips of Swift on tour and interacting with her fans).

Critical Evaluation: Fearless is the sophomore album of mermaid-coiffed country singer and songwriter Taylor Swift, following her self-titled debut from 2006.  It’s no surprise that the singer has gained so much popularity with this release – the themes have broad appeal, not just to teens but for anyone who has experienced young love, and although Swift doesn’t have the most impressive voice she writes very catchy and relatable songs.  Many of the tracks contain fairy tale imagery, although some of her literary allusions seem a little off (why would she describe herself as The Scarlet Letter in “Love Story”?).  While there isn’t anything musically challenging here, it is evident that Swift understands her fans and knows how to write for them.  While parents of younger teens will be thrilled that there is no objectionable content, older teens that are experiencing the drama of high school relationships will also be drawn to this album.

Annotation: Taylor Swift’s sophomore album, Fearless, contains songs about first love and heartbreak.

About the Artist: Born in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania in 1989, Taylor Swift began writing songs at the tender age of 10 and started performing them in local contests.  She visited Nashville when she was 11 and passed out demo tapes to all the major labels, hoping to score a record contract.  She finally caught the attention of a record company at the age of 14 after performing at the Bluebird Café, a Nashville venue, and was signed to a newly formed label, Big Machine Records.

Her self-titled debut CD came out in 2006 and topped the country music charts.  After Fearless came out in late 2008, Swift became the youngest artist ever to win the Academy of Country Music Album of the Year.  She made her feature film acting debut in 2010’s Valentine’s Day.  Swift has been romantically linked to other teen heartthrobs such as singer Joe Jonas and actor Taylor Lautner.

Genre: Country, Pop

Curriculum Ties: N/A

Discussion Ideas:
1) Which songs do you relate to the most?
2) Do you think that most people have similar experiences in high school?

Interest Age: 12 and older

Challenge Issues: None

Challenge Defense Ideas: This CD has no apparent challenge issues, but if a challenge comes up:

• Become familiar with the CD and its content.

• Refer to the collection development policy of the library, if none, see here to develop one right away.

• Refer to reviews from Billboard Magazine, USA Today and others available for viewing on Amazon.com.

• Try to get reviews of the CD from teens who have listened to it.

Selection: I chose to review Taylor Swift because her music exemplifies the teenage experience, particularly of first love.  While not every teen likes her music, it is certainly widely relatable.

Extras:

Taylor Swift’s website and Twitter.

An interview with Taylor about Fearless.

Taylor Swift’s VEVO Channel (music videos).

Music Video for the song “Fearless” including fan and tour footage:

May 7, 2010 Posted by | Music | , | 1 Comment