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  1. "Confessional, unapologetic and underwhelming." (two minute read) Bebe Rexha could be easily recognized as one of the most innovative artists, merging the alternative influences of pop and hip-hop to the modern music scene. And with the immense success of country/hip-hop hybrid, Meant To Be, she has once again proved her artistic vision of bridging between genres. Which brings us to her second studio album, Better Mistakes, describing it as a confession of her insecurities, mental struggles and self-doubt. The lead single, Baby, I'm Jealous, was released on October 9, 2020, featuring Doja Cat. It was followed by Sacrifice and Sabotage, unveiling the album's tracklist on her social media page on April 15th. Then the collaborations with Ty Dolla $ign and Trevor Daniel, My Dear Love, was released alongside the album on May 7th. With the short running time of the tracks — mostly not even exceeding three (03:00) minutes, it is somewhat a letdown how the lyricism lacks variety and ranges. The repetitive choruses are too spacious as they dominate the dynamics of the tracks, leaving less momentum for the verses to stride. Regardless of the obvious flaw, the album masters the extreme ways of how Rexha copes with her struggles as she suggestively jabs; "I should dye my hair / I should f—k my ex / I should lose my phone / Better mistakes" on the title track, Better Mistakes. In addition, the 'supposedly' contemplative tracks are interesting at first listen, but not compelling enough to signify their raw lyricism and intentions; Sabotage and Empty for instance — these tracks carry a mellow paced verse, but ultimately fail with the whining delivery of their choruses. The sample track, Mama, is also an embarrassment, in spite of the ambitious intention to emulate the arena-esque appeal of Freddy Mercury. The ups and 'mostly' downs of the production value has widely populated the album. To resent the distasteful collaborations with the hip-hop artists, $ign and Daniel, in My Dear Love — they complement themselves with high doses of trap sound. In contrast, the club-oriented tracks like Baby, I'm Jealous and Sacrifice have tone-switch the trap-heavy collection of the record. On The Go also shares an enlivening break from the cohesion; the acoustic elements of the track have melded a safe chemistry between Rexha, Sweat$ and Lunay. Death Row is strikingly one of the album's highlights. Despite the shaky and weird vocals on the verses, it outstandingly funked-up the chorus, having a late 2000s rock inspiration — a replay-worthy. Amore is also a huge nod with its Italian influences fused with the hip-hop genre, the track is bearable and has great dynamics. And even though Die For A Man may be 'your' usual urban track, the monotonous to anticlimactic progression has smoothly jammed a slow-burning vibe. Better Mistakes has served its very own purpose to confess Rexha's hardships as an artist, lover and woman — albeit the lack of stronger material. However, with the trap-oriented sound of the current pop music, producing an album with the similar influence could be dire-hit. And Better Mistakes shows the inevitable misstep of going to the trend, as it only has a few prominent and alternative tracks to compel its listeners. What y'all think of the album?
  2. "Smartly explores the carefree and vulnerable ways of describing one's journey." (two minute read) Demi Lovato is determined to find recovery with the newest and boldest projects she's ever had in her career. And if the standalone singles are not enough to openly contemplate her struggles with mental health and addiction, the four-part documentary, Demi Lovato: Dancing With The Devil, shares the experiences, insights and growth of the 28 year old sober for the past couple of years. The record has a long process before finalizing it's release last Friday, April 2nd. And while Lovato's involvement and campaign towards politics has put her in a less-received situation by the general audience, similar to Katy Perry's "purposeful era", the album is surprisingly a full 180° to her recent public image. Starting with the three track interlude, Anyone is a cry for help. The classic piano driven ballad gives Lovato's voice a lift off while she soars right from the verses to chorus. It is interestingly dark, but the chorus's lines are rather sounded short and pressured. And that feeling where the verses are forced to fit in with the song's melody is also the Dancing With The Devil's issue. However, I.C.U. has paid it's worth to slow down the dramatic productions of the first two tracks, transitioning to a milder yet familiar songs. The Art Of Starting Over and Lonely People deliver a slow-burning vibe that could've been more satisfying if they added some jazz elements to them. She also exploits her ***ual reference through The Kind Of Lover I Am and My Girlfriends Are My Boyfriend, showing a less suggestive and refreshing ways of talking about ***uality without sounding imposed and crass. The subtlety and bittersweet lyricism, matched with the refreshing sound of acoustic guitar makes The Way You Don't Look At Me's texture admirable, desperately what Anyone and Dancing With The Devil are missing. What Other People Say is deliberately the highlight, with the undeniable chemistry and perfect pitch between the two, Fischer gives an outstanding performance layering and supporting Lovato's vocal capabilities, while emoting, "I wish I could shelter the boy I knew / From the constant hell I put him through / 'Cause I'm all grown up and I'm black and blue". While the duet with Fischer has impressively excelled, the following collaborations with Grande and Saweetie are hit and miss. Despite the effort of Grande backing her signature trap-pop sound, Met Him Last Night ends up alienated in the album, though the bridge has a very great build up. Saweetie's part in My Girlfriends Are My Boyfriend sounds unnecessary, since the song's structure could be independent. That rap verse would've been useful to a track with more upbeat production, The Kind Of Lover I Am for instance. [Noah] Cyrus's Easy is a safe take though, generally feels more of an album filler. Melon Cake is definitely the golden-dance-nugget of the record. Enhanced with tropical/electro synths, it could be a potential sleeper hit, and notably similar to Max's So Am I. Moreover, Carefully achieves the mellow progression no other tracks did. The tenuous and breathy vocals, matched with a laidback production, the track is like a child to Perry's Tsunami and Gomez's Bad Liar. Particularly her rendition to Jules's Mad World has blended well with the closing tracks, ironically outdoing 15 Minutes and Butterfly. And it is a good thing the record's narrative is not really in a full circle, wrapping up with the Good Place, the track serves as a self-check with contentment, "Now I'm in a good place / Took a while to feel this way / No longer have to save face / Reconciled with okay". Dancing With The Devil... The Art Of Starting Over shares heavyweight narratives but smartly explores the carefree and vulnerable ways of describing one's journey, from the darkest phase to finding the good place, without severing the album's cohesion. And though Lovato might be left behind by her peers in chart perspective, she finally found a piece of record that could toe to toe with Cyrus's artistic alterations, Grande's ***ual liberation and Gomez's music rarity. What y'all think of the album?
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