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Post Grammy Download: What You Missed and What You Kissed

With much of what’s out there

to purchase on iTunes, it seems these are the times to focus on all the

music that makes us cringe and roll our eyes. Seldom do music lovers

get to rejoice on the wonderful fruits of artistic labor…that is until

the end of the year rolls by and Grammy nominations are out and about.

AllHipHop.com Alternatives comes bearing gifts – the Top 5 albums

that should have, and probably didn’t, capture their attention and,

well, yours. Chinese astrology told us that 2007 was the year of the

pig, and that pigs are perceived to be oblivious or gullible. Chinese

astrology couldn’t have gotten it more twisted about music listeners

as the music that won many hearts came from English songstresses, bands

with fly swagger, and a newly crowned American sweetheart. Notice: a

jazz singer singing a woman’s song wasn’t mentioned. Hey-oh!

Back To Black [Universal Republic] by

Amy Winehouse

Many Hip-Hop heads got their first glimpse of Ms. Winehouse on Ghostface

Killah’s More Fish [Def Jam] album. Unapologetically re-using

“You Know I’m No Good” this Hip-Hop celebrity gave a glimpse of

Winehouse’s cross-over potential for 2007. As ’07 unwound, Winehouse

sang about despair with a style reminiscent of yester-year but still

cool enough to love. Back To Black is a dish served with ingredients

thrown in by Hip-Hop producer Salaam Remi, the horn heavy producer Mark

Ronson, and the old soul vocals and lyrics of Amy. Back To Black

is proof, yet again, that art is a dish best served in pain as the voice

of the album has fallen multiple times on the drug tip, with a YouTube

video to prove it. More than an incredible album, Back To Black

brought to us the most fascinating persona of the year. Amy shows that

to make a stand, even at the risk of self destruction proves that our

lives are made up of our own choices. Hopefully, unlike our songstress

we’ll make the right ones, personally and musically, this coming year.

Amys ComebackUploaded by whaturtalkinbout

As I Am [J Records]

by Alicia Keys

“No One” may just as well

be the record of the year. Leeshy’s two Grammy wins this year might

prove to be a foreshowing in the R&B category. Beyond that, the

New York princess brought back some much needed soul into the pop music

spectrum, while establishing herself as Generation-Y’s R&B queen

and the holder of both girl’s and dude’s hearts. As I Am

is packed with optimistic and encouraging messages that ought to become

part of our individual mantras in 2008. The messages of true and juvenile

love, cherishing those around us, and persevering after disillusionment

fell on us, just in time, as we brought 2007 to a close. The rock and

soul infused album is even packed with a John Mayer collaboration that

holds the ultimate lyric that should carry us through 2008 – “Yes

I was burned, but I call it a lesson learned.” 

A Keys “No One”Uploaded by whaturtalkinbout

Alright, Still [Capitol]

by Lily Allen

Take the ideas of an around the way girl, pack them in a fine vocabulary

(okay, not all the time) and an English accent and you’ve got Lily Allen’s

debut. Painting the true picture of what it’s like to be a twenty something

lady in the new millennium with lyrics like, “How would it make you

feel if I said that you never made me cum?” “You’re not big,

you’re not clever,” and “When you ask if we can still be lovers,

I’ll have to introduce you to my brothers,” it’s no wonder that

she clicked with bloggers and music lovers alike. Aside from taking

reggae and fusing it into this pop package, Lily proves that foreign

artists can be sassy, fashion forward, trendy, and sassy again and gain

the approval and artistic love of us hard to impress Americans.

As Cruel As School Children

[Fueled by Ramen] by Gym Class Heroes

As Cruel As School Children was a 2006 calendar release, but

an ’07 blow up. Plus, the Grammys didn’t even feel they were worth

nominating. Never too serious, and always playful – that’s how Gym

Class Heroes buried themselves in our iPods this past year. Even in

moments that require down-in-the-dumps and pissed off boyfriends, they

give us “clueless boyfriend” a la “Cupid’s Chokehold” –

a Billboard 100 smash. If anything Travis McCoy and company bring back

to life the classic saying of “boys will be boys” on tracks like

“Scandalous Scholastic” – where there’s an affair with a teacher

on your speakers – and “It’s OK, But Just This Once!” – about

spiking punch and lying about your age. The band hailing from upstate

New York even get on their serious tip penning songs, submerged in rap

lyrical arrangements and even a little R&B, about how cathartic

it is to write songs [“On My Own Time (Write On!)”]and the toll

a touring music career can have on a relationship [“7 Weeks”]. The

more contagious thing about Gym Class was that their musical formula

of mixing rap and rock was something that’s been tried before. Remember

Limp Bizkit? Heroes got it right without isolating too many listeners

with an overly rock sound paying equal attention to melodies, harmonies,

and drunk women. Boy, do these guys know the way to our hearts. 

It Won’t Be Soon Before Long [A&M/Octone] by

Maroon 5

In a world of frequently botched

sophomore albums, Adam Levine and the boys stay on their R&B-jazz

joint venture and delivered a more polished effort. Mixing in The Police-like

guitar riffs and Adam Levine’s amazing talent for writing hooks, it

was a sure solid album. The cheating themed “Makes Me Wonder”

was an across the board Billboard summer hit, and had a secure place

on the pre-party playlist on hip lounges throughout the U.S. It Won’t

Be Soon Before Long was even packed with quintessential “you’re

a whore” and “I cheated on you ‘cause I don’t love you”

songs that gave guys the permission to sing-along and the girls swoon.

With remix collaborations recruiting the likes of Eve and Mary J. Blige,

Maroon 5 give a true glimpse of how permissive pop music can really

be – and flexible always did mean more fun. 

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