Tunes: New Releases from Kylie, Vicci Martinez
Plus Usher’s Looking 4 Myself
The Best of Kylie Minogue
After two decades of niche fame, Kylie Minogue’s camp isn’t giving up on demonstrating to the non-gay public the awesomeness of the Aussie, recycling her hits into remixes, live releases and past hit collections. The strategy? Drop a new album, and then get those hits on another album – any album – stat. The Best of Kylie Minogue makes its case: The underrated diva’s catalog is a bank of irresistible dance-music goodies, from her classic ’80s-released fame-maker “The Loco-Motion” to 2002’s crossover hit “Love at First Sight.” Those, of course, show up here (the former as the 7” mix), as do 19 other tracks, and their music videos on an accompanying DVD, from the last 25 years: “I Should Be So Lucky,” a bubblegum standout from her 1988 debut that begs you to get out the boom box, and disco-influenced gems like “Spinning Around” and “Can’t Get You Out of My Head.” The latest additions, “All the Lovers” and “Get Outta My Way,” come from Minogue’s reinvigorating Aphrodite, but that hardly warrants another cobbled LP after 2004’s two-disc set, Ultimate Kylie – even if this is her 25th year since making the shift from soap star to dance queen. “Timebomb,” her new single commemorating this milestone, would’ve been a nice incentive on an album that’s a hard-to-justify buy. At least there’s the cool cover art. Kylie buttons from different eras? Oh hell yeah. (Grade: B-)
Before Vicci Martinez was the last contestant standing on Team Cee Lo during The Voice, the out lesbian was an independent recording artist, releasing her first album all the way back in 2000. Now on a major label, Universal Republic, she’s getting the platform she deserves. Alternating between power pop and bluesy rock, she resembles Joss Stone on “I Want Your Kiss,” and “Stop Pretending” could easily be a Kelly Clarkson hit. When she scales back on “Let Go,” an introspective piano ballad, Martinez proves her glory on The Voice was no accident.
Looking 4 Myself
Despite his lost-boy album title, finding Usher shouldn’t be hard. He’s always somewhere between horny and heartfelt. That’s the case again with the hottie’s seventh album, his best since 2004’s Confessions. Forget about the first single, “Scream,” a radio recyclable. Mid-tempos “Climax” and “Say the Words” (via the Deluxe Edition), with its old-school MJ feel, cast us under his falsetto spell. As good as they are, it’s the genius tracks produced by Klas Ahlund (aka the Robyn dynamo) – “Numb” and “Euphoria,” both suiting the Euro-synth sounds – that really give Usher the edge he hasn’t had in years.
Chris Azzopardi is the editor of Q Syndicate, the international LGBT wire service. Reach him via his website at www.chris-azzopardi.com.