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It's rare for reality show runners up to achieve a record deal, let alone any form of success. After finishing in the top four of American Idol in 2009, Allison Iraheta at the tender age of just 17, released her debut album 'Just Like You' in the US, which has so far been a moderate hit, selling over 100,000 copies. Currently on tour with Adam Lambert, Allison's music can clearly be labelled pop-rock. The album, is nothing that Kelly Clarkson, P!nk and Avril Lavigne haven't done before, but Allison's rich and astoundingly mature voice, help propel this CD above mediocrity and stand-out from the crowd.
The opening track is a glossy, unashamedly pop song, entitled 'Friday, I'll be Over U'. Penned by song writing god, Max Martin (responsible for enormous hits by the Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, P!nk, Kelly Clarkson and Katy Perry to name but a few), the song boasts an bold sing-a-long chorus with the subtle infusion of dance-and-synth elements to the production. "What was true/About you?/Who are you when I'm gone?/I wanted to be with you/Don't know what I was on," Allison belts, with incredible sass and conviction. While the verses can at times sound a little brattish, almost cheesy, the song is so infectious that you just eventually succumb to it's charm and embrace it as a fantastic track.
The curiously-titled 'Robot Love' kicks off with pounding drums and a stomping bass-line, complimented by raucous hand claps and stadium shouts of "HEY!". From the get-go, this song is fun and instantly likeable. Lyrically, it doesn't really dig deep or deliver much poetry, lamenting a technology-addicted boyfriend who spends all his time texting or on his PC rather than giving his girlfriend any attention. However, it's swings and roundabouts, as while the song may have rather juvenile subject matter, at the end of the day, it's still hella catchy.
'Just Like You' is one of my favourites on the CD. Another Max Martin creation, it has gentle piano-laden verves and then a crashing, sing-a-long chorus. "They say heartache heals in time, whoever they were, they were right" are the lyrics, which are inadvertently inspirational for any listener who has just begun to get over a relationship. Immensely catchy and delivered with personality, Allison really cements the song in the listener's head and heart, with the memorable last few words of the song: "And I can be cruel/Just like you".
As the third single from the album, I like 'Don't Waste the Pretty' in that it shows the softer side to Allison's voice and also is a good balance between ballad and up-tempo. With inspirational undertones of self-respect and independence, it's lyrics talk about not settling for less. The chorus is surprisingly not the stomping sing-along affair as is standard on the album, but I suppose, that makes it refreshing. Initially, it seems rather forgettable, but with repeated listens it grows on you.
Written by Toby Gad ('If I Were a Boy' by Beyoncé and 'Big Girls Don't Cry' by Fergie), 'Scars' is the most poignant moment of the album and in my opinion - is the standout track. With a simple acoustic guitar, and slow building melody, the emphasis is placed on Allison's ability to emote and deliver a song. Rich and soulful, you literally cannot believe that it is a 17-year-old singing on the track. "Take me, this is all that I've got, this is all that I'm not, all that I'll ever be" she sings on a chorus, that grows in momentum towards the end of the song. As probably the least commercial track on the album, it ironically sells Allison as a credible artist best. While the bulk of the criticism of the album is focused on the fact that it is too pop-heavy, this track really adds a sense of balance to the record.
'Pieces' is another stand-out. It has such a great tempo, and strikes the perfect balance between rock and pop. "I don't need you to save me/I'd rather crash and burn," Allison sings triumphantly, in the addictively catchy track. For me, this song was an instant favourite of mine. The lyrics, speaking of not wanting to be overprotected and kept safe from the world I think are important to note, since Allison is only 17. At this time of her life and still very much in the early stages of her career, this is a great coming-of-age track, that in my opinion, she pulls off with flawless vocals and conviction.
I absolutely love the drums and percussion on 'D is for Dangerous'. Don't let the title fool you, it's surprisingly good, lyrically speaking. "Love is a weapon, and it's turning me to dust", Allison sings in a song about surrendering to new love. This was one of those tracks which grows on you with each and every listen. It's now another of my favourites.
The production on 'Holiday' is fun, sounding like a rock version of Depeche Mode's 'Personal Jesus'. The lyrics annoy me a little on the track: "I like that change, like a holiday/It feels so good, just like Hollywood". A little cheesy, and in fact, one of her weakest on the CD, the killer guitars and drums help rescue the song. It's a grower and is catchy, but it just feels a little too much like generic quasi-rebellious teenage pop-rock that's been done before.
'Still Breathing', thankfully is far better. Beginning with a cascade of loud drums, the song is a triumphant post-break-up track, much like the title song. "I'm still breathing, don't think I'm not because you're leaving", Allison sings, in a song full of surprisingly beautiful imagery which create a nice contrast between ideas of suffocation and release. Sounding emotionally vulnerable, this is the kind of track that Allison sounds best on. It's not a ballad, but is more melodic than say, 'Holiday', which is just a boisterous but ultimately soulless listening experience.
The lyrics on 'Trouble Is', talk of the fear of embarking on a new relationship. "It feels like I could win or lose it all," Allison laments on the chorus, in one of the lyrically stronger tracks but unfortunately, most unmemorable offerings on the CD. It's a ballad, which is much welcomed in providing balance to an up-tempo pop album, but doesn't have the biting hook that the other tracks have. Maybe it'll grow on me.
'No One Else' is a gorgeous track, which has the benefit of being written by P!nk, Kara Dioguardi and Greg Wells (a key Katy Perry producer). They manage to combine emotional intensity with memorable pop hooks. Admittedly, the lyrics are far more suited to P!nk's personality and own life experiences, but the chorus is great: "There's simply no one else/In the world that I could ever find/Likes me when I'm low /And still tolerates me when I'm high". What is so appealing is that it's explores the more positive aspects of love, but isn't cheesy as there's acknowledgements of the protagonist's personal flaws.
The most pop song on the album is 'Beat Me Up', in that instead of having drums or live-guitars, it has obviously studio-created beats and guitar effects. Allison's soaring vocals on the chorus, help it become an earworm. Perhaps due to the production, it sounds a little Disney, but it's a fun song nevertheless.
'You Don't Know Me' is a killer end to the album. It's such a great subversion of the typical whiny teen pop-song about being invisible to the one you have a crush on. "I'm not sorry for who I am, for what I feel," Allison hisses in the chorus with surprisingly raw and gritty vocals. The lyrics are all-round fantastic, because it adds such a different twist to an overly trodden subject matter. "I'm altogether an emotional wreck, but I'm not going to break down over this," Allison sings - ending the album on the same sentiment expressed in the twelve previous tracks - an affirmation of an emotionally-aware but strong and resilient individual. The same interestingly enough applies to her vocals.
The album is a fantastic debut, and will definitely be a fantastic addition to your collection if you're a fan of pop-rock singers. With flawless yet surprisingly unique vocals on every track, Allison isn't your cookie-cutter pop singer. She has just a wonderful tone to her voice that is slightly raspy, which gives you almost the idea that she's wise beyond her years, which helps in the lyrical and emotional deliveries of the tracks. Admittedly though, the album can feel a little samey in that it never really breaks away from the formulae laid by other artists in the genre. However, flashes of creative genius in tracks like 'Scars' show that maybe if Allison begins to lean to a more rock or acoustic sound, she may have a very bright future ahead of her.
Some of you may already know Allison Iraheta from the 8th series of the show American Idol. This 16 year old at the time managed to hold her own, against an array of very talented male singers and managed to come fourth. Compared to the likes of Kelly Clarkson and more specifically Pink, Allison managed to deliver week after week, her husky voice and her brilliant pipes kept us all entertained and a lot actually thought she could win.
In December 2009, she released her debut album called Just Like You. I myself went to buy it along with the winner and runner ups album but was put off completely by the price. Where as at the time Kris Allen (the winner) and Adam Lamberts (the runner ups) albums were in the range of £9, Allison Iraheta's album was a staggering £21.99, and still is at the time of writing this review. I was put off completely and opted to buying just the other two.
Last night after talking to a fellow American Idol fan, I found out he had actually purchased the Allison Iraheta album as at the time of the release he was working in America and got the album for a very cheap price. I begged for him to lend me the album and here I am reviewing it.
Track Listing Reviews
Track 1- Friday I'll Be Over You
This song is the one song that I have heard before listening to this album, it's very poppy and it sounds just like it has been taken from a Kelly Clarkson album. Iraheta's voice is strong within the song, but it is way too cheesy for me to listen to properly, for me sitting here listening to it for about the third time is quite painful and I'm finding myself cringing over the fact that it is really not something I wanted her to come out with, it's just too cringe worthy and childish and it's not it doesn't give her a proper chance to show off her pipes.
Rating: 3/10 (Childish and doesn't really show off her pipes the proper way)
Track 2- Robot Love
I was really hoping for something brilliant with this album, after the brilliance of Kris Allen but the disappointment with Adam Lamberts album, I was hoping this one would make up for it but so far I'm not too impressed. Robot Love manages to show off Allison's pipes a lot more than the previous song and she really does sound like Pink within places in the song, however you wouldn't see Pink creating a song like this. I know she is being called a lot more mature than she actually is, but singing songs with lyics like this is not what I would call that mature. The instruments are just too loud and it drowns out her voice.
Rating: 4/10 (Better than the previous track, but still quite juvenile and I was expecting a lot more)
Track 3- Just Like You
This is the sort of song I was expecting for her to release, I think the piano in the background is really annoying and it sounds like a child is playing it, however if you can ignore that and listen to the amazing vocals coming out of the girl, you will see how talented she really is. In previous songs she really didn't get the opportunities to show off her pipes but in this song she remains in control and her voice shines above the quite juvenile music in the background. Can I see myself keeping this one on my ITunes? Probably not, but you never know, if I give a song a good rate, I'll give them another chance afterwards and maybe this one will grow on me at the more, at the moment I just think it's good.
Rating: 7/10 (A good song, this is the sort of music I expected from Allison, wasn't too keen on the instrumentals in the background though. 7 out of 10 just for her vocals)
Track 4- Don't Waste the Pretty
I'm not a big fan of Pop songs, I love Pop/Rock and that is the sort of genre I thought Allison would put her album into. This song is getting quite a low rating for me, as the beat is a complete rip off of the song Unwritten by Natasha Beddingfield. I didn't know who she was but I was singing her lyrics along to the beat and Googled them. I'm not sure if this is down to Allison or the producers/writers of the song, but I was so disappointed. Forgetting about it being a rip off, her vocals are good, nothing special. I really don't think her voice goes brilliantly with this sort of music, when she starts getting higher up her register you start to see her shining, but until there it's just a mediocre performance.
3/10 (I hate the lyrics to this song, especially the title, and the song is a rip off another song. The vocals were Ok, but nothing special)
Track 5- Scars
After listening to this on American Idol last week I do appreciate the song a lot more, her voice is just beautiful. It's more like a power ballad and like Pink she manages to pull them off just amazingly well. She is much better when she is allowed to use her vocals and when that is the most important thing in a song, it really and truly works. I really do love this song and I will be keeping it on my ITunes after writing this review, it's nowhere near perfect as it just doesn't seem finished, and the drum beat sounds juvenile, but the rest of the song sounds amazing. I am really hoping I can find an acoustic version of this song as I'm sure it will be beautiful.
8/10 (It's not perfect but the song is really pretty. The song mainly relies on Allison's vocals, it just doesn't seem completely finished and I think it will work better acoustic)
Track 6- Pieces
When I first listened to this song, I wasn't a huge fan, I think because I was expecting another Pop song which sort of didn't work, but listening to it more carefully the is more Pop/Rock than anything and it suits Allisons voice brilliantly. Her voice is very strong throughout, she controls the song and surprisingly for once the instruments in the background suit the song and don't come across like a child has been let loose on the drums.
Rating: 8/10 (A very nice song, it's nothing special but it does suit Allison's voice a lot)
Track 7- D Is For Dangerous
Yes the lyrics are as juvenile as you would think they would be, I struggle to hear the lyrics in some places on this song, it's more about the gimmicks in my opinion and the big loud music rather than Allisons voice and for me I think the only thing worth listening to is her voice on the album so far. I really wasn't impressed with the lyrics, even when reading them along with listening to the song so I knew what she was saying, the song doesn't really work, for which I'm quite disappointment about.
Rating: 4/10 (An Ok song, it's not bad by any means, but I was expecting so much more than this juvenile performance)
Track 8- Holiday
I'm not sure if my ears can take this anymore, it's not that her songs are bad by any means, it's really not painful at all, but there are so many people going around saying how mature her music is, and I really can't see that at all. I think she sounds like a 17 year old but it's just not the way she is being publicised. This song is a bit better than some, but it's annoying in quite a few places and I'm not sure what she is saying in places, and it's just not something I'd willingly listen to.
Rating: 5/10 (It's Ok, nothing special, like the rest of the album)
Track 9- Still Breathing
FINALLY. Another song which is actually worth listening to, the verse is a lot more powerful than the chorus, but her voice shines throughout, she has such a husky and despite me comparing her voice to Pink in some places, it is quite unique. I really do like this song and I will probably keep it on my ITunes after this review, it uses her vocals to the best of their ability and it is just very nice to listen to. This is exactly what I was expecting her to release.
Rating: 8/10 (Another 'good' song, there's problems with it, but all in all, one of the best on the album so far)
Track 10- Trouble Is
I read the lyrics to this one before actually listening to the song, I knew from them it was going to be beautiful, from all of the songs on the album, this one has the best lyrics, it's got a few little problems, like I really can't stand the bit where she sings 'na na na na', but the rest of the song is just stunning and it is the best on the album so far in my opinion. Her vocals are tremendous and they have made sure to showcase them in this song, I just wish they got rid of the na na na nas.
Rating: 9/10 (It would be the perfect song for me without the annoying bits in it, the lyrics and her vocals are really strong and really good within this song, best on the album so far)
Track 11- No One Else
I swear I thought she was going to sing 'Simply The Best' at the chorus, it is not the most original of songs, but like the previous one it showcases her vocals brilliantly and it is really worth listening to. The song is nothing special compared to the likes of Scars and Trouble Is, but her vocals are just amazing to listen to within this song, one of the strongest vocal performances from this great artist.
Rating: 8/10 (Another great song, it is one of the highlights of the album for me, her vocals are so strong, one of the best vocal performances for me from her).
Track 12- Beat Me Up
I thought she was on a roll, but this has to be the most annoying song on the album, I hate repetitive songs and that is what this one is completely, I really want to turn it off only after listening to it after 30 seconds but for the purpose of this review I'm going to listen and cringe. Her vocals don't even sound like her, I really am disappointed with this track. Very annoying.
Rating: 2/10 (really repetitive and really terrible, not something I'd like to listen to again)
Track 13- You Don't Know Me
To end the album, she comes out with another un-original track, I swear this is on a Kelly Clarkson album somewhere, her vocals in the chorus are good, but the rest of the song is quite boring and is nothing really special to listen to. I'm really disappointed with the fact that this album is no where near original, I knew it was going to be a given that she was going to be compared to Pink, but this album sounds like too many other artists including Pink.
Rating: 5/10 (An ok song, nothing special and quite juvenile again. It sounds like it's been taken from Kelly Clarksons albums)
I have never been so glad that I have not brought an album before in my life, not because of the fact that I'm only giving the album 3 stars but because on the UK amazon site at the moment it's over £20. This is just ridiculous and the album is no where near worth that amount of money. You can get it a lot cheaper now at the marketplace, but I'm not too sure of the quality.
The album did disappoint me, I have yet to listen to Danny Gokey's (the guy that came third) album as it has actually only just been released today (1st March), I am waiting for some amazon vouchers to appear and then will download it. Our of all of the four finalists I really thought that Allison's album would be the best, her vocals were always on point and strong and I just loved her versions of songs, but this album did disappoint me greatly.
If you know much about Allison Iraheta you might have seen her being called very mature for her age and her music seems to follow in that pattern. I was shocked to then listen to this album and listen to all of the juvenile songs on it that I would really only expect to hear on a Disney kids album not on someone who very nearly one the biggest talent competition in America.
The main problem for me with the album was I wasn't really sure if the album was actually all hers. I would swear that about 50% of these songs were taken from other tracks out there in the world, I am really a big fan of originality in albums, I think it makes them stand out from the crowd and I'm afraid Allison actually lost two stars just to the album not being original in the slightest.
I was expecting her to come across sounding like Pink, it's just whom her voice is compared to the most, and really it's not a bad thing, however she has attempted to be so many different artists within this album, she's really not decided who she is yet. I know that's not a bad thing, with her being just 1 year younger than myself I know finding yourself is impossible at this age, but I thought she would have got a lot more help and a lot more guidance than I believe she got for this album.
Boy does she have strong vocals, even when the songs were making me cringe as they really just belonged in a Disney kids show, her vocals shone through. Even if you are not planning to buy this album, I would recommend you go and check out her Studio Recordings of "Alone" and any other ones you can get your hands on. Her voice is strong, really strong and it makes up for some of the bad factors in the album.
The Songs Quality
Out of 13 tracks only 6 are worth even slightly mentioning, this is a great disappointment as even these tracks in comparison to the artists out there at the moment are not up to the same sort of standards. The tracks that I love are Trouble Is and Scars, both I believe to be the sort of music that suits her brilliantly and hopefully in another 2/3 years she comes out with a better version of this album with songs like that.
Would I Recommend It?
Truthfully, probably not. I think the songs were Ok, but there just wasn't anything new, nothing really special. Like Adam Lambert she has potential for so much more, but never really shows it in their albums. I am glad that I listened to my instinct and didn't buy this album, as I know it would have gone straight on EBay two seconds after I had listened to it all. It's not horrendous but by no means can it be called even slightly as good as it should have been.
Allison Iraheta is a name to watch out for, her debut album was not up to the standards that I expected, but if you look at past Idol contestants you can see the same sort of pattern forming here. She has a brilliant voice, yes you can compare her most to Pink, but she has a very distinct voice and a very strong one at that. When the songs work in the album it is down to her strong and unique voice and for me that is enough to give this album 3 stars.
I was very disappointed however as too many of the songs were too cringe worthy and they really just didn't feel like they belonged on the album. I know she's only 17 and this is the sort of music a 17 year old should be singing, but she showed the world this mature grown up voice and sung mature grown up songs and for me that is the direction she should have taken.
Hope this helps. (C) Kirsty 2010
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Friday I'll Be Over U
2 Robot Love
3 Just Like You
4 Don't Waste the Pretty
7 D Is for Dangerous
9 Still Breathing
10 Trouble Is
11 No One Else
12 Beat Me Up
13 You Don't Know Me