808s / How To

How To: An Introduction

If you have ever been victim to my angry tweets surrounding a disappointing album release from one of my favourite artists (see Beyonce’s 4, Nicki Minaj’s Roman Reloaded, Kanye & Co Cruel Summer) then you have my condolences. Though I credit myself on having an open mind when it comes to most genres of music, the level of criticism that artists fall victim to runs in correlation with how much I like them; backwards I know.

When an artist I adore releases a subpar album, or makes poor single choices post release I can’t help but get angry. I’m much more frustrated when I know an artist has it in them to deliver a brilliant song or a consistently amazing album than I am with artists I either don’t know or have never really enjoyed before. I’ve gotten comments on Twitter about my disdain with Beyonce’s 4 album campaign for instance, as a ‘huge fan’ how could I complain so much about the tracklist. In fact, just about the only thing wrong with 4 is the tracklist, which I’ve mentioned before here, so I took it upon myself to reorder the tracks in an attempt to make the most of a disappointing album. The album was improved to no end, throwing in bonus track ‘Schoolin’ Life’ and not making the awful decision of ending with ‘Run The World (Girls)’ made for an album Bey deserves to be releasing, even if she would never get to see it.

I’ve also had people question why tracklists matter to me so much. I know that most people are perfectly happy skipping songs they don’t like, or listening on shuffle, but often this makes the whole album feel disjointed and messy. The flow of a record is so important, evident in many of my favourite albums (see any of Kanye’s solo records), where a 60 minute album can fly by as you get lost in the tracks. Some albums only need a few tweaks here and there, Madonna’s MDNA is instantly better with the incredible ‘Best Friend’ taking the place of ‘Some Girls’ and ‘Superstar’. Albums that need far too much work? I’d use Christina Aguilera’s Bionic as one of the most obvious examples. An album full of great songs, most of which are hidden beneath a bunch of middling to downright painful tracks like ‘Vanity’ and ‘Sex For Breakfast’. The deluxe version of Bionic features 22 songs, of which I include 10 on my ‘final cut’ of the album. Having to cut 12 songs from an album to make it listenable isn’t the best feeling. Of course the worst offender is Nicki’s Roman Reloaded, the extended Re-Up version containing over nearly 30 songs with an incredible 10 track album hidden in there.

As I spend so much time reordering albums I thought it was time for me to make it a semi-regular segment on here. I may go back and go into detail on some of the albums I mentioned above, but hopefully as time goes on this can become my new way of ‘reviewing’ those albums that I think maybe needed a few extra weeks in the editing suite to get them ready for general consumption. As usual, expect each post to devolve into a rant of sorts, but I’ll try and keep to some sort of structure each time. I’ll include a Spotify playlist (if available) in each post, so make sure to let me know what you think of my new cuts of these previously disappointing records.

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