Sunday, June 22, 2008

Best Recent Dance Albums

After a too-long dearth of dance-influenced music, we're elated with the recent wave of great new dance music--often by not-new artists.

In honor of this trend, we've decided to list our favorite recent dance albums.

1. Blackout by Britney Spears

In the sadly ironic tradition of the music industry, Britney Spear's first legitimately good--nay, great!--album hardly hit the public "radar" because of the star's tragic fall from...what, grace? Well, whatever she fell from, it was a big loss, not only because Brit the human being has fallen apart before age 30, but also because her latest album, Blackout, is almost flawless. From her perfectly engineered, half-human vocals to Danja's awesome beats, we encourage anyone who didn't pick up this album to give it a chance.

Best tracks: Break the Ice (also worst video), Get Naked, Freakshow, Piece of Me

2. Hard Candy by Madonna

Even though Madonna takes a back seat to her producers on this album, it highlights Madonna doing what she does best: barely singing inane, fun lyrics that are either some of the dumbest ever written, or ingenious in that they can be understood universally by English and non-English speakers, 40-year-olds and four-year-olds. More importantly, this album makes you want to stop thinking, get up and dance no matter what you're doing.

Best tracks: Heartbeat, Beat Goes On, Dance 2 Night, Give It 2 Me

3. Robyn by Robyn

Where the hell did this come from?? We barely remembered Robyn as a one-hit-wonder (She was the 15-year-old in the mid-90s who sang "Show Me Love") until she showed up with this wide-ranging, self-produced, alternately lovely, sweet and cutthroat album. Since this album is technically a couple of years old already, we're looking forward to more from her soon!

Best tracks: Konichiwa Bitches, Crash and Burn Girl, Who's That Girl, With Every Heartbeat, Cobrastyle

4. Shoot From The Hip and Trip the Light Fantastic by Sophie Ellis-Bextor

Technically, these albums aren't new, but they were just made available in the U.S. and it's worth checking out, if only to see what we Americans have been missing. Bextor is one of today's best dance music stars, and if you only know her for "Murder on the Dancefloor," you should take the time to hunt down her catalog.

Best tracks: Catch You, Today the Sun's on Us, If I Can't Dance, China Heart (in which a friend of ours insists Bextor is actually singing "vagina heart")

5. E=MC2 by Mariah Carey

We know, we know, we know, this album is NOT a dance album by almost any measure...but it does bring some uptempo beats back to Mariah's work, and a couple of tracks, including "Migrate," "I'll Be Lovin' U Long Time," and "I'm That Chick" are highly danceable--or at least could be with excellent remixes. We really dig this album. We wish she'd release something fun and un-skanky, and that does NOT mean "Touch My Body" or the uber-snore "Bye Bye."

Best tracks: I'm That Chick, Migrate, O.O.C., I'll Be Lovin' U Long Time

6. Bring Ya To The Brink by Cyndi Lauper

We love to see Cyndi return with new upbeat music, and we love that she and Madonna are back in competition against one another just like in the '80s--and just like in the '80s, it's not really a fair comparison. Lauper's music operates on another level than Madonna's; Madonna is pure pop confection, while Lauper's has something else. That je ne sais quoi sometimes holds back the hooks, making the music a bit less catchy, and her voice is a bit more raw, as she's not as given over to having her voice totally reworked by computers. This keeps Cyndi a bit underground, a little edgy, where Madonna has been completely commercial at least for the last 10 years. Apples and Oranges, Madonna and Cyndi, and that's the way we like 'em!

7. X by Kylie Minogue

We don't worship Kylie the way we're supposed to. We love love love some of her music ("Can't Get You Out of My Head," "Fever," "Slow"), but mostly we just like her sometimes and can't stand her at others. Still, X has some great gems like "Speakerphone," but suffers from an excess of oddly placed "woo!"s in songs like "Sensitized." We hate hate hate the woo! Anyway, some good stuff here, so give it a chance and just delete the crappy ones. :-) And yes, we're prepared to get flamed for this review.

Best tracks: Speakerphone, In My Arms, Like a Drug

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