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Album Review: “Play On” by Carrie Underwood

A little over 4 years after winning American Idol, Carrie Underwood is still churning out the hits and proving to everyone that she is one of the biggest superstars in the music industry.  Her third studio album, Play On, is in stores now, so here’s a track-by-track review of her latest effort:

  1. “Cowboy Casanova”- The first single from shows that Carrie’s got that star power.  It’s a great vocal, of course, but more importantly it shows signs of growth in Carrie’s writing and shows that she’s not going to keep doing the same old thing.  With Hot AC and Pop showing great interest, I see this as being the next “Before He Cheats” in terms of  crossover success.  9.5/10
  2. “Quitter”- Once again, Carrie pulls out something new and different with this song.  This is another song that I see being really successful on country radio, as well as Hot AC and Pop.  It’s insanely catchy, and it would be a great single for next summer.   9/10
  3. “Mama’s Song”- This song will mean a lot to mother’s and their daughters I’m sure, but it’s probably my least favorite on the CD.  It’s not bad, but it’s kind of boring.  I know it means a lot to Carrie though.  8/10
  4. “Change”- Some have called “Change” preachy, I call it epic.  Sure it’s about helping others, but what’s wrong with that?  Not to mention the vocals and musical arrangement are phenomenal. I can’t wait to see Carrie knock this out of the park on the CNN Heroes special. 9/10
  5. “Undo It”- This one screams cross-over, even more than “Cowboy Casanova.” It’s also phenomenal live, as evidenced by the Jimmy Kimmel performance. If they choose to release this as a single, it’ll be a smash on multiple formats. 9.5/10
  6. “Someday When I Stop Loving You”- Once again, Carrie changes things up with “Someday When I Stop Loving You.”  The whole song is pretty low-key, but the vocals and arrangement are beautiful.  Probably Carrie’s most restrained vocal yet, not to mention it’s one of the most true country songs she’s done. 10/10
  7. “Songs Like This”- This song, more than any, just really makes you want to dance.  Every time my iPod shuffles to this song, I want to jump and embarrass myself.  The only problem is that it’s a bit too short, but the aggressive vocals make up for it. 9/10
  8. “Temporary Home”- If this song doesn’t show just how much Carrie has grown as a writer, I don’t know what well.  This deep ballad showcases Carrie’s vocals, but the real magic is the writing.  As I said in my single review of “Temporary Home”, the lyrics don’t beat around the bush and instead deliver the message without complicated metaphors.  “This is our temporary home/It’s not where we belong” sums up quite nicely.  Songwriting awards, engage.  10/10
  9. “This Time”- This smooth country/pop number could be a surprise single pick around the end of Play On’s run, with it’s catchy and light lyrics and delivery.  It’s definitely not like anything Carrie’s released as a single before, so it would keep with the theme of changing things up.  The only problem this song may face is the placement on the CD, where it could be lost among the highlights of the album. 8.5/10
  10. “Look At Me”- Like “I Told You So” before it, “Look At Me” features a soaring vocal by Carrie on a cover of a classic country song.  “Look At Me” is stronger than its predecessor, though, with Vince Gill on harmonies and Carrie bringing her A-game.  It’s the perfect song to keep those who want Carrie to be strictly country busy. 8.5/10
  11. “Unapologize”- To many listeners, “Unapologize” may seem like an off the wall song when you look at the grand scheme of Play On.  I, however, think it only adds to the amazing dynamic of the CD.  Sure “Unapologize” is about as country as “Use Somebody” by Kings of Leon, but who says you can’t have a little variation on a CD?  Certainly not me, and that’s what makes Play On so great.  “Unapologize” is pop/rock straight-up and shows off some great vocals by Carrie and a brooding musical arrangement.  It’s got a great chorus, and could see success on Hot AC and pop radio.  9/10
  12. “What Can I Say”- Another beautiful song with a really cool intro.  Sons of Sylvia are on hand for a duet, though Carrie far outshines their lead singer.  That aside, the duet still works marvelously.  I hope this is a single, but I’m not holding my breath.  I can’t wait to see this on the Christmas special coming up. 9.5/10
  13. “Play On”- The title track takes us back to Carrie’s music when she was fresh off of Idol.  It’s a great little throwback, and I like the encouraging message.  Carrie sings the heck out of the final verses, showing us she has been hard at work perfecting that beautiful voice. 8.5/10

Play On has a little something for everyone, and that’s what makes it an amazingly engineered album.  It’s definitely Carrie’s best album from her young career, and arguably one of the best albums of 2009.  As someone who was a little disappointed in Carnival Ride (The first 4 singles were all wonderful, but outside of those and 2 or 3 more I wasn’t that impressed with it), Play On is refreshing indicator of where Carrie is going as an artist and just how much she has grown through the years.  I can’t wait to watch her and her career continue to grow into something truly incredible.

Overall Score: 95 out of 100

Staff Hot Picks: “Cowboy Casanova”, “Quitter”, “Change”, “Undo It”, “Someday When I Stop Loving You”, “Songs Like This”, “Temporary Home”, “Unapologize”, “What Can I Say”

What do you think of Play On?  Leave your comments below or send an e-mail to theconservativejournal@gmail.com.  Don’t forget to bookmark The Conservative Journal and sign up for the RSS Feed and the daily e-mail newsletter.

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Thanks for reading!

Rick

Also, be sure and use the new rating feature, found at the bottom of comments and posts!

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TCJ Library Addition: “The Five People You Meet In Heaven” by Mitch Albom

I wanted to thank the reader that sent in a suggestion for me to read “The Five People You Meet In Heaven” and add it to the TCJ Library; it’s running low on books, I know.  I’m going to go buy it tomorrow or Monday and start reading and write a review when I finish.  From what I’ve read on the internet, it’s supposed to be really good.  Can’t wait to share with everyone my opinion of it!

Also, if you have a book or magazine suggestion you’d like to see added to the Library, please e-mail me at theconservativejournal@gmail.com or write a comment on the Library page.  As always, I’d love your suggestions!

Leave your comments below or send an e-mail to theconservativejournal@gmail.com.  Don’t forget to bookmark The Conservative Journal and sign up for the RSS Feed and the daily e-mail newsletter.

Thanks for reading!

Rick

Also, be sure and use the new rating feature, found at the bottom of comments and posts!

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Music Review: Adam Lambert “Season 8 Favorite Performances” via iTunes

Continuing my American Idol Season 8 wrap-up nonsense, I decided I would also review Adam Lambert’s “Favorite Performances Collection”.  This song set is extremely popular on iTunes; it’s still #5 on top albums over one week from being released.  Here’s the review:

(The songs are in the order they appear on the track listing, and will be rating on a scale of 0 to 10 elephants)

  1. Black or White“- 8 Elephants- The live version of this “Black or White” was energetic and exciting, and I don’t think that translated very well to the studio version.  It seems much more relaxed.  Analogy: The live version is to bold, black coffee as the studio version is to a mocha frappe latte.
  2. Born to be Wild“- 8.5 Elephants- Once again, like “Black or White”, I don’t think these high-energy songs from Adam translate very well into studio recordings.  But of course it’s much harder to deliver the energy and excitement on a recording, especially an American Idol recording.  I can’t get it out of my head that this sounds like a “Born to be Wild” dance remix.
  3. Cryin“- 9 Elephants- This was one of my favorite songs from Adam throughout Season 8 because the screech/wail that he does worked so well.  It wasn’t overdone or obnoxious, it just worked.  The studio recording is similar in that it’s a great vocal and it all just works.
  4. Feeling Good“- 9.5 Elephants- I think this is one of the few songs that I enjoyed the studio recording and not really the live performance.  The studio recording is great!  Definitely one of my favorite studios from Adam.  He breathed new life to this old classic and it really worked.
  5. If I Can’t Have You“- 8.5 Elephants- The vocals in this song are great, but when I listen to it the music gives me the feeling that this an 80s pop song.  I don’t know what the people that add the backing track in are thinking sometimes.  Other than that, it’s good!
  6. Mad World“- 9.5 Elephants- I’ve got three words for you: haunting.  Take it in folks, I will never use the word “haunting” to describe a song again because it makes me feel like Kara.  Seriously though, this song is great and Adam does a great job with it every time.  It may be teetering on the edge of “performance overkill” since it’s been on every morning talk show in the U.S., but it’s still great and the definitive Adam song.
  7. One“- 9 Elephants- I expressed my complete disdain for Adam screwing up one of my favorite songs, but he fixed it all with the recording.  The little changes he made in the melody are gone and it’s back to it’s original form.  I know that I’m the number 1 proponent for changing songs up, but that’s only if it works.  If you go for it and it fails, tough stuff for you.  But like I said, he fixed it for the studio and it sounds great.
  8. Play That Funky Music“- 7 Elephants- I hate this song, and I like it no more when Adam does it.  The vocals are good, but the song is complete garbage.  That’s all I’ve gotta say about this one.
  9. Ring of Fire“-  0 Elephants- Just as frightening as the first time, I can’t even finish it.  I’m not trying to pull a Clay Aiken and say that I’m going to have nightmares and it was horrible in the vocals because that’s just not true.  The vocals are fine, the whole arrangement is just scary.  I don’t like this song really in any form though.  Oh and I don’t really give it 0, more like 7.
  10. The Tracks of My Tears“- 8.5 Elephants- I definitely liked the live version better without all the background nonsense going on, but it’s still a good song even in studio.  I wish American Idol would just leave the performances acoustic or whatever in studio because that’s the reason why American loves those performances!  Ahh, it’s so aggravating.
  11. Whole Lotta Love“- 9 Elephants- Once again like “Cryin” the screech works here.  If Adam is going to want to do the screech, then songs like these are definitely going to suit him well.  And to give the screech credit, it’s one heck of an on-pitch screech.
  12. A Change is Gonna Come“- 9 Elephants- It’s probably the most soulful track on the favorites compilation, and it definitely sounds good.  Not too much was added to the studio version (thankfully) so it keeps a lot of what was in the live version.

The Verdict

After much debate, I’ve decided that the following songs wil make the TCJ Playlist:

  • “Cryin”
  • “Feeling Good”
  • “Mad World”
  • “One”
  • “The Tracks of My Tears”
  • “Whole Lotta Love”
  • “A Change is Gonna Come”

What do you think of Adam’s “Season 8 Favorite Peformances” from iTunes?  If you disagree with my review, let us know!n  Leave your comments below or send an e-mail to theconservativejournal@gmail.com.  Don’t forget to bookmark The Conservative Journal and sign up for the RSS Feed and the daily e-mail newsletter.

Thanks for participating!

Rick

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Filed under Adam Lambert, Entertainment, Music, Singers, TCJ Playlist

Fringe “Midnight” Recap

Tonight’s episode begins with some guy in his apartment, with the news on in the background.  The newscaster is talking about a murder that was quite gruesome.  He then goes to a club, where he sees a girl that he likes.  So, they go back to his (or her) apartment and begin hooking up.  While their all over eachother, the woman slashes the guy across the face and he is dead.  His wife calls his phone, and it can be seen ringing next to where he is lying dead on the bed.  Apparently, the girl is the killer.

When the show returns, Olivia (Anna Torv) is at a little get together with some friends.  She meets an odd couple that are together but live completely separate lives.  Olivia’s sister then reveals her husband is filing for divorce.  Agent Dunham is then called away from the gathering to examine the murder that occured earlier.  In one of Walter’s hilarious remarks he compares the victim to a good shrimp cocktail because he is perfectly deveined.  Walter then suggests that someone ate his spine.  Well, that’s interesting.

Agent Dunham reports back to the office to give her boss the findings.  He also gives her a good divorce attorney for her sister.  Back at the lab, Walter is examining the body.  He finds that the lady that killed the man has an extinct form of syphilis.  The CDC explains that someone in a residential area requested a sample of that strain of syphilis, as well as other bacterium.  They make a trip to the house where the items were delivered and find a man named Dr. Boone.  They take him into custady for questioning.

They know Dr. Boone is associated with ZFT, the organization responsible for a lot of the craziness that goes on on the show.  Dr. Boone says he’ll give them all of the info as long as they get his wife back from ZFT, who has taken her hostage.  They find that the address Dr. Boone gives as the location of his wife is a restaurant in Chinatown that is using 5 times as much power as they should be.  They then go check it out.

Back at the lab where Dr. Boone was found, Walter believes he may have figured out what was going on in the house.  At the same time, Agent Dunham and the crew are on their way to the restaurant where Dr. Boone’s wife is allegedly being held.  His wife is nowhere to be found, so they call Dr. Boone.  He reveals that his wife, Valerie, was not kidnapped, but was infected with the virus that is being stored at the Chinese restuarant.  His wife is the killer.

We then see his wife in a car with another man.  They also start hooking up.  She gets very warm and starts shaking, apologizes to the guy, then forms sharp teeth and bites him in the neck.  The crew arrives to gather evidence for testing.  Back at the office, they show Dr. Boone the video of he and his wife in the park.  He is not in a wheelchair then, which he explains by saying that he fed his wife his spinal fluid as long as he could, which took away his ability to use his legs.  Dr. Boone reveals that ZFT creates these viruses in order to show off their skills to other scientists.  Dr. Boone says he can make an antidote as long as they bring his wife to him.

Back at Walter’s lab, he is discussing with Dr. Boone.  Charlie and the crew finds a victim’s vehicle, but it was stripped of all of it’s insides, including the GPS.  They go to one of Peter’s friend’s “chop shops” and he tells them where he found the vehicle.  At the lab, Walter and Dr. Boone are still talking.  Dr. Boone says he knows very well who Walter is, to which Walter replies, “That makes one of us”.  Once Peter and Agent Dunham arrive at the scene where the car was found, they discover another body that has been de-spined by Mrs. Boone.

Walter and Dr. Boone are still hard at work to make an antidote.  The authorities deliver the most recent victims to the lab.  Astrid (Jasika Nicole) finds that one of the bodies smells like alcohol.  Using a blacklight, she sees an entry stamp on one hand of each of the victims.  They now know that she is finding her victims in bars and clubs.  Peter makes a trip to a club in order to find Mrs. Boone.

The antidote is not working on the lab rats they are testing it on.  Dr. Boone says the antidote needs real spinal fluid to work properly, and says his own will be compatible.  He demands that Walter remove some of his spinal fluid to get the antidote working properly.  Astrid is strongly against it, but Walter knows it must be done.  Back at the club where Peter and Agent Dunham are, they locate Valerie but eventually lose her.  Charlie is standing guard at the door, and shoots Valerie with two tranquilizers.  They’ve got her now.

Back at the lab, Dr. Boone is suffering immensely from the missing spinal fluid.  Walter knows that he lied about having more spinal fluid to use.

Valerie wakes up slowly in the patrol car being driven by Peter and Olivia.  Peter and Olivia began discussing Dr. Boone’s sacrifice for his wife when Valerie wakes up completely and lunges forward on Olivia.  Peter shoots her with a tranquilizer again, which knocks her out of her violent state.  They arrive at the lab with Valerie to find that Dr. Boone has had a stroke due to the lack of spinal fluid.  They give Valerie the antidote, which causes her to scream and lash violently.  When she’s done, however, her frighteningly blue eyes fade to a more natural green.  Valerie is now cured, but Dr. Boone has died.  Walter gives Agent Dunham the tape that Dr. Boone made for her, complete with all of the answers regarding ZFT and his projects.  Agent Dunham meets with Phillip (Lance Reddick) and reveals that, according to Dr. Boone’s video, the cheif funder behind ZFT is William Bell.

That’s all for tonight’s episode!

Thanks for reading!

Rick

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Filed under Entertainment, Fringe, No Politics Tuesday, Television

Poll of the Day: Who Was Your Favorite On American Idol?

If you missed the show, you can read the recap here.  Who did you enjoy the most on American Idol’s top 9 episode?  Don’t worry those that don’t watch, there’s a choice for you too.

Thanks for participating!

Rick

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Filed under American Idol, Entertainment, No Politics Tuesday, Television

Week In Review: March 22nd-28th

American Idol was the subject of our first No Politics Tuesday!

American Idol was the subject of our first "No Politics Tuesday"!

Site News

This week saw many additions to The Conservative Journal, including:

  • The “No Politics Tuesday” feature was added this week.  Each Tuesday we take a break from the politics and the economy and just focus on entertainment.  This week, we kicked off “No Politics Tuesday” a day late with an American Idol recap.
  • This was The Conservative Journal’s busiest week this ever, with over 10,800 pageviews.  Thanks to everyone who made this possible!

Top 10 Posts and Pages of the Week

Be sure to check these out, everyone else seemed to like them!

  1. Possible Candidates for 2012
  2. The Chosen One Will Triumph in 2012 Again
  3. Mail Bag: A Vast Array of Textual Remarks
  4. More From the World of Meghan
  5. American Idol Top 10 Results Show
  6. Barack Obama Reads This Blog
  7. Charlie Rangel Can’t Read His Own Writing
  8. American Idol Top 10- Recap
  9. Top Sites
  10. Mail Bag: Ron on National Debt

Posts from the Week

These posts were posted during the last week.  If you missed them the first time, be sure and check them out by clicking the article below.

Poll of the Day Results

March 21st- Who Do You Think Changed the Wikipedia Page?

  • We presented the evidence, and you voted to find the culprit.  In the end, the person you all thought is the conspirator of WikiGate was clear.  And that person is………. Joy Behar!  Joy was my pick also, as the evidence against her was compelling.  Here are the details:  Joy Behar had 35% of the vote, Michael Moore had 19% of the vote, Nancy Pelosi had 17% of the vote, Barney Frank had 15% of the vote, and Al Gore had 14% of the vote.

March 22nd- What Do You Think of the 2012 Poll Results?

  • In a vote that remained close all week, readers of The Conservative Journal sided with the poll that predicted Barack Obama would beat Sarah Palin if they faced off in 2012.  42% of our readers think that the results were accurate, while 39% think Sarah Palin could take Barack down.  The remaining 19% don’t know.

March 23rd- What Do You Think of Charlie Rangel?

  • Looks like I’m in good company around here as a Charlie Rangel hater, as 81% of readers of the site voted that Charlie Rangel has got to go.  A mere 5% voted everyone should just back off, and the remaining 14% don’t care enough to form an opinion.

March 24th- What Do You Think of Meghan McCain’s Interview?

  • Looks like there isn’t much Meghan love here at The Conservative Journal, as 38% of our readers don’t care enough about her to read the recap of her Larry King interview, or to watch it back online.  34% of our readers thought it was horrible and boring, while the remaining 28% loved the interivew.

March 25th- Who Was Your Favorite on American Idol?

  • For our inaugural “No Politics Tuesday” day, we asked who our readers thought was the best on American Idol.  Our readers chose Adam Lambert as the best with 20% of the vote.  The remaining contestants stacked up like this: Allison Iraheta received 16%, Danny Gokey received 12%, Lil Rounds received 9%, Kris Allen received 8%, Anoop Desai received 7%, Megan Joy received 5%, Matt Giraud received 4%, Scott MacIntyre recieved 3%, and Michael Sarver recieved 1%.  The remaining 14% of readers don’t watch.  It’s also worth noting that our readers not only predicted the bottom 3 accurately, but predicted who was going home as well.

March 26th- Did Watch Obama’s Press Conference?

  • 53% of Conservative Journal readers watched the press conference, but fell asleep at some point through the itnerview, 24% of readers didn’t watch because they’d rather have been watching The Wheel of Fortune, 18% couldn’t work it into their schedule, and a mere 6% watched it and enjoyed it.

March 27th- No Poll

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Week In Review: Postponed

I let the weekend slip up on me and will be postponing the “extremely” popular “Week In Review”  post until tomorrow.  It usually takes quite a long time to put together, so I will be working on it tonight and tomorrow.  Check back in tomorrow afternoon in order to see the post!

Sorry for the inconvenience!

Rick

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