“Audio Day Dream” much less of an ADD experience as expected, but danceable as hell.

7 Dec

I’ll admit it. I watch American Idol. And last season, even with how horrific Sanjaya was, I still had faith in the greater Seattle area. Runner-up Blake Lewis defied all American Idol odds, and he made it pretty damn far for a beat-boxing kid from Bothell. So when I heard that his new album, “Audio Day Dream” was coming out, I was ecstatic. Not only was he cute, he was talented. The whole American Idol package if you ask me.

His album pleasantly surprised me. I thought that Seattle only bred Death Cab and Nirvana wannabes, but who would have thought that a beat-boxing pop star would come from Seattle. He’s plenty different from the common American Idol story. His album, released on Arista Records on Dec. 4, just in time for the holidays, didn’t have such a blaring affiliation with AI, even though it was released just two weeks after AI winner, 17-year-old Jordin Sparks’ album “Tattoo” made it’s way on to all tweens’ iPods.

The good thing about producing not completely with American Idol—you can write all your damn music. You don’t pick from a selection of prewritten ditties for your debut. That’s what’s evident on Lewis’s record—appropriately the album art in a simulated ’45 record—it’s signature Blake. He said himself that he had the concept long before American Idol and that music has always been his life. I especially loved the collaboration with Lupe Fiasco “Know my name.” It had the most attitude of all the tracks, and was great to belt out to.

I could have just been me, but some of the appeal I think came from the pop-ness of it all. I’m not much of an MTV fan, and most of the music that pervades their channel at least the 2 hours a day that they show videos, causes me to quickly change the channel. But Audio Day Dream is a mixture of electronica, hip-hop and pop, and some of it reminds me of Justin Timberlake’s NSYNC days. Seriously. And I enjoy the nostalgic feeling I get when I listen to “End of the World” and “Without You.” I feel like there should be four other guys backing him up and trendy dance moves to go along with it. And he can really sing. That’s double the awesome.

Along with the synchronized dance move, “She’s Makin’ Me Lose It” had a new and interesting vibe to it. For some reason, it reminded me of updated Prince. Everything—the guitar riff, the falsetto, the back-up vocals and the beat—just with some synthesizers added. I’m not to sure if that was good decision, but it’s sure fun to dance to.

I’ll have to be honest, I expected a little more crazy from Blake. I thought that he would be beat boxing on almost every track and mess with current styles and make them his own. That could be because I was so used to him doing that on AI, but the lack diversity in the tracks was a little disappointing, and they felt about as polished as Blake’s spiky coif. I’m a perfectionist, so I can understand wanting everything to be perfect, but then I think about his live performances.

Lewis is a great performer, and he’s plenty entertaining on his own, and I think that he would have made a fine record using his own natural talents. He already proved that he can sing and beat box like no other, so why cut down what makes him so unique to 10-second clips at the end of a handful of songs and a minute-long declaration of his alter ego, “B-Shorty?” I say go all out. Go crazy and bring it all to the table. I don’t think that Blake did that.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good album for his first album, but another downside to American Idol, America already knows what Blake can do. If this is what we get from him as the first major release, we have high expectations for his second release, whenever it may be.

As one that despises most mainstream pop, I actually won’t change the station when Blake’s single “Break Anotha” comes on the radio. I may even buy the album…no, I’ll download it. That’s how I get all my music anyway. Opposed to Shop Boyz’ “Party Like a Rock Star,” “Audio Day Dream” is filled with dance hits for all types—high school dances, clubs, even future karaoke parties.

If I were a DJ, I’d put Blake Lewis on the top of my playlist.


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