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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Pop Making Sense
by David Byrne with Tony Peregrin
2008-11-26

This article shared 3613 times since Wed Nov 26, 2008
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On her latest album, Our Bright Future, Tracy Chapman ( pictured #1 ) is in fine form with her knack at storytelling, which is intertwined with a series of gentle heartwarming love songs. Try not to visualize the Grammy winner's smile on the intimate Sing for You. She then shows signs of turning that smile into a smirk on I Did It All. On Something to See ( No War ) , Chapman is still 'talkin' 'bout a revolution,' as she sings 'Now we're all free / No war no greed / That would be something to see.' Our Bright Future has a sound that would translate well for Chapman's forthcoming solo tour.

So What, P!nk's ( pictured #2 ) sing-along anthem about her recent divorce, is her first number-one pop hit. Despite the title, do not consider this outspoken firecracker to be indifferent. On Sober, I Don't Believe You and Crystal Ball, the artist also known as Alecia Moore takes a somber turn. Even on the upbeat title track, she proposes to burn down the home she once shared with her ex. The single-worthy It's All Your Fault is more than just a two-dimensional finger-pointing rant, proving that on her fifth studio album, Funhouse, P!nk continues to blossom as a songwriter, having co-written all 12 tracks. If you are torn between getting the CD or downloading the album, just keep in mind that the liner notes contain some great photos of P!nk showing off her ink.

Lady Gaga scored one of the biggest dance hits of the summer with Just Dance. Finally, her full-length debut, Fame, is out now on Interscope. Her platinum bob and Christian Soriano-like fashion may make her look like Christina Aguilera's younger sister, but Lady Gaga's sound is an electro-pop delicacy that the former influx of Lolitas could only dream of conceiving. Lady Gaga can get 'dirrty,' as heard on Lovegame, when she sings 'I wanna take a ride on your disco stick.' On Fame, Lady Gaga has a distinct sound of her own, adding a much-needed, refreshing splash to the dance-pop market.

Years ago, I fondly remember seeing Deborah Cox on Friday Night Videos performing Who Do You Love with Janet Jackson's choreographer Tina Landon. In the years since then, Cox she has achieved much—landing pop hits, belting dance anthems, performing on Broadway and delivering a critically acclaimed jazz-standards album. Now the Canadian vocalist returns with an overdue R&B flavored album, The Promise, out now via Deco Recording Group/Image Entertainment. Here, Cox is on par with other divas like Whitney Houston ( The Promise ) , Mary J. Blige ( You Know Where My Heart Is ) and Taylor Dayne ( Did You Ever Love Me ) . How could we forget how Cox delighted the crowd by hitting those high notes on the broken-hearted ballad Did You Ever Love Me at Northalsted Market Days last summer?

Amanda Palmer ( pictured #3 ) , one half of the Dresden Dolls, is stepping out on her own with her solo bow, Who Killed Amanda Palmer. This was intended to be a simple side project, but then fan Ben Folds entered the picture. Once he met the singer-songwriter, he volunteered to produce the set. Upbeat numbers like Runs in the Family and Leeds United balance out the slow clock-ticking pace of Strength through Music. Palmer shines as she unfolds a story about date rape and the subsequent abortion on Oasis, which is a far cry from Ben Folds Five's Brick. The bittersweet closer Another Year is the estranged cousin of R.E.M.'s Nightswimming. Palmer is scheduled to perform at The Metro Wed., Dec. 3, with The Builders and The Butchers and Zoe Keating.

First, this new-wave fan can appreciate a band releasing its self-titled debut on Adam Ant Records. Female rock quintet Sick of Sarah delivers solid alternative music from college radio's pre-Lilith Fair heyday. Songs Bittersweet, Give Me a Reason and Common Mistake give a nod to riot grrrl predecessors Liz Phair, L7 and Breeders. The Minneapolis-based Sick of Sarah makes its way back to the Windy City Wed., Dec. 10, for a concert at The Double Door.

New Arrivals: Volume 3 is out now on Out Music Award winner Rachael Sage's MPress Records. This set is a cornucopia showing off the talents of multiple independent musicians, including Sage, out New Yorker Swati and Toad the Wet Sprocket frontman Glen Phillips. Jay Clifford provides pop-rock with Know When to Walk Away; the Hamiltons featuring A.K. recall Sheryl Crow on So Close; and Joy Askew offers a dark alternative with War. Proceeds from New Arrivals: Volume 3 benefit the National Eating Disorders Association.

DJ Scotty K. keeps Global Groove: Volume 4 bubbling with an energetic mix of female vocals and covers. The showstopper is Robin's club hit, You Turned the Tables ( the Ralphi Rosario Vocal Mix ) . Nicki Bliss appears twice, first with her remarkable remake of September's Cry for You and again with a dance version of Katy Perry's breakout smash I Kissed a Girl. Also highlighting Scotty K.'s continuous mix are Tina Sugandh's Break Me ( the Chris Cox Club Mix ) and Alyson's Here with Me ( the Hex Hector Club Mix ) . Global Groove Live 4 is out now on Centaur.


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