Weekly Roundup of ListenOnRepeat New Reviews for Oct. 19 – Nov. 01, 2020

This year Halloween has been absolutely amazing regardless of the pandemic. Artists including Halsey, Ciara, and Cardi B shared their terrifying as well as beautifully designed costumes while few artists went live on their performance. On the other hand, Ariana Grande’s ‘ Positions’ album has been voted as a fan favorite this week.

Here are the latest music reviews on ListenOnRepeat from the last week. Take a look!

Lee Brice – Memory I Don’t Mess With (Official Lyric Video)

lee brice memory i don't mess withLee Brice is a man at the head of the country scene. He is an artist with a large, loyal following, one who releases songs that hit the mark more often than not, and “Memory I Don’t Mess With” is more of the same.

It’s lyrics tell the story of a past relationship, and how the memories of that relationship still affect the speaker. It was a great relationship, it was an important one, a painful one, and one that could have ended up oh so differently.

In the visuals for the lyric video, Brice is center stage, silhouetted in the mist in the middle of a dark forest. We can see the cowboy hat, the boots, and outstretched arms as if Brice is channeling the Lord’s mercy to help him come to terms with what he has lost.

Written alongside Brian Davis and Billy Montana, the track has hit the mark, with comments relating to the story of the lyrics. One top commenter reflected: “Can relate as there’s always that one relationship that haunts you.” In this sense it is universal material  – everyone has something they are struggling to get over.

The problem is that the memories pull you in too deep, forcing you to confront the tough questions. Brice had the following to say about the track: “The memory’s always there. The pictures are always there in your head. But that’s the one you’ve gotta let alone, and let just be a memory.” T

“Memory I Don’t Mess With” is a cut from his forthcoming album, to be released on November, 20. Brice is back and his fans are hungry for more very soon.

Josh Groban – Angels (Official Audio

josh groban angelsGroban is back and he is going to be making a whole lot of fans very happy – particularly the type who are craving some caramel-toned music to enter into the Christmas season.

It has clearly hit the mark. Comments sections are full of people who claim to be playing the song on repeat, who can’t wait for the new album, and who are fully on board with this promised slew of releases that Groban has now begun to post.

Here is one fan expressing the way they feel about “Angels”: “Josh your voice always uplifts when I least expect it, along with pristine and stunning musicians playing. This is a beautiful rendition! My favorite as it never really caught my attention until now.”
For British fans (as well as those around the world, to a lesser extent) the song will be very familiar. It is a cover of Robbie Williams’ smash hit, which has often been at the top of ‘greatest singles’ lists of the 21st Century.
The song speaks about emotional struggles, and about that one person who can make it all OK. These angles/ this angel are there to offer protection “through it all” and to keep the speaker on the straight and narrow no matter what life throws their way.
A pensive guitar has been added for the bridge, and alongside clattering drums the violence stab drama into the melody, bringing the whole thing to a swell behind Groban’s centralized tone for the chorus.
“Angels” is part of Groban’s forthcoming album, “Harmony,” which will be released on November 20.

The World: Alone (Visualizer) – Sam Williams

the world alone sam williamsIt is an ominous title for strange times. But rather than reflecting the current predicament the world faces, the meaning of this song lies closer to home for Sam Williams. “The World: Alone” was released on what would have been his sister Katie’s 28th birthday. Sadly she never reached that age, and the track pays tribute to the adventures they spent together, as well as the ones they never got to experience.

Williams’ fans are very much involved in this saga, and comments sections are full of well-wishers: “I love this song so much! Happy Birthday in Heaven, Katie! Sam, she is so proud of you! Thank you for sharing your music with us!” The mood is of turning a negative into something beautiful, even when it seems that there is little-to-no light at the end of the tunnel.

The lyrics tell the story of country-hopping – from Barcelona to Rome. William’s sister can’t be there with him, and the magic carpet right where he was going to “show her the world” is no longer possible. “Who am I supposed to show it to now?” the singer asks. These words are matched with visuals that illustrate a sense of wonder, but also a sense of melancholy – empty streets, sprawling vistas, and lonely clouds.

In giving his listeners a taste of the song’s meaning, Williams released the following statement along with the song: “I wanted to keep the atmosphere longing and spacey for this song. It has a mystic feel at its core. The lyrics ended up being as clairvoyant as they could be, but I just let the words fall to the paper. My co-writer and I wanted to keep the chorus simple and emotional, and drive home the message that the biggest dream in our heart has been taken.. but it’s better to have loved and lost than to not have loved at all.”

Dan + Shay – I Should Probably Go To Bed (Official Music Video)

i should probably go to bed“Is it love?” … that is the question being asked in this track by Dan + Shay. The country-pop duo composed of vocalists and songwriters Dan Smyres and Shay Mooney have been around for a few years and they have established themselves as a force to be reckoned with on the country scene by proving their salt in pop charts as well as on country stations. The three albums that have paved the way to today are Where It All Began, Obsessed, and the latest, Dan + Shay. They are signed to Warner Records.

“‘Cause I know in the morning (in the morning)/ I’ll be calling (I’ll be calling)/ Saying sorry for the things I said/ So I, yeah/ I should probably go to bed.” These lyrics describe a predicament as the brain of the speaker keeps on turning round and round again. The setting is as follows – when a man hears that his ex-lover is coming back to town he changes his plans and decides to stay and reconnect, or does he? Has he really moved on? Is it even worth worrying over?

The answer is not clear, and it won’t get solved by stewing over the feelings and memories that remain. So, the best thing is just to head to bed. Dan sits on the piano as he delivers this internal saga, and the world literally turns itself upside down around him in the official music video. The camera spirals and the house floats up into the air: it is a physical representation of the turmoil and the buoyancy that couple the prospect of seeing someone that he might still be in love with.

Fans are convinced, here is a top comment: “Not exaggerating but this guy has to be one of the best vocalists in recent times. He sounds live, what he sounds like in the studio.”

Janet Devlin – Better Now (Official Video)

janet devlin better nowJanet Devlin will be familiar to most pop fans in the UK and Ireland. She rose to fame at a very young age on Britain’s Got Talent and has since revealed the struggle of early fame through confessional videos on her popular Youtube channel. Themes in these talks have ranged from alcoholism to suicide, and she has been incredibly frank in addressing her lived experience for a large audience. Now sober and a lot happier by all accounts, she is releasing music with the benefit of hindsight, having grown and changed a lot since that fateful audition all those years ago.

Confessional was released in 2020, and the artist’s favorite track from that album has been given a shiny music video to boost its storytelling capabilities. This new video came with a note from Devlin, where she said the following: “I can’t even begin to explain to you why this video means so much to me but I’m going to try! Horses symbolize so much more to me than just a hobby. They symbolize the freedom and joy of my youth that I don’t know if it’s quite possible to attain as an adult. When I’m around horses, I’m able to be with those feelings and remember the best times of my younger years. Those years before the world got tough and I could trust people with all my heart.”

Clearly, this is an artist on a public journey, one that her fans are fully invested in. She was once the girl with a fragile, unique tone that sounded too good for her age. Now her voice is full of the pain that comes with actually growing up. “Better Now” is a symbol of hope for her fans and a sign of an artist who has gone some way to self-realizing, when it must have seemed impossible to do so at certain points.

Frances Carroll & Her Coquettes Featuring Drummer Viola Smith

A slice of music history: Viola Smith has passed away, and we are now given the opportunity to remember one of the women who made it OK for female musicians to take center stage. Viola was born in 1912 and was best known for her drumming in big bands and swing bands during the 1930s and 40s. Her career, however, continued well into the 70s, she played five times on the Ed Sullivan show and in several films. Growing up with seven sisters, she was a member of the all-girl band conceived by her father.

After touring nationally and becoming one of the most well-known faces of female musicianship (her drumming was so staggering that she was often placed on a raised platform at center stage), she wrote an article for Downbeat magazine entitled Give Girl Musicians a Break (1942). After attending Julliard, her 13-piece drum style, including two 16inch tom-toms at shoulder height, became iconic on the big band circuit and her name was made.

In her career, she would rub shoulders with the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and become known as the fastest girl drummer alive. She has passed away at the age of 107 and this occasion will likely introduce many younger music lovers to her recordings. But beyond the music, it is her legacy of breaking down barriers that give her a place within the history books. Here is a 1939 recording of “Snake Charmer” that features an extended solo from Viola. A piece of history for a gem of herstory. One top comment summed up the general reaction: “R.I.P. Viola. What an inspiration; it’s sad to see her go. Such an accomplished life she lived, and she nearly made it to 108!”

Good for Somebody

good for somebodyKaitlyn Bristowe is a reality star with a difference. The Nashville resident has been featured on The Bachelor, as one of the contestants, where she came third in the competition. She then launched her own show, The Bachelorette, in which she searched for an eligible young man of her own. This lead to an engagement that then ended in heartbreak and she was left to fend for herself once more. It wasn’t until she met Jason Tartick that she found what she was looking for. Curiously enough, she spotted him as a contestant on another Bachelor series, but it wasn’t until they met in person that they fell for each other.

One of the things that have endeared fans to hear is the music that she releases to accompany her hectic public life. When her engagement ended, she wrote “If I’m Being Honest,” which went to number 2 on the iTunes download charts. This time, it is a love song rather than a heartbreak ballad, and it is directed towards her partner on his birthday.“I saw you on TV and thought nothing of it, just another guy” … it turns out that he would become much more than just another contestant.

The chorus hook works around her first impressions of him on TV, and her remarks: “He’s gonna be good for somebody, good for somebody. If you would have told me I’d have never believed that was gonna be me.” Love works in mysterious ways. And though Bristowe’s voice doesn’t knock you out, she is adding an interesting string to her bow as a reality star, and the fans are all on board for it.


Little Mix – Sweet Melody (Lyrics)

little mix sweet melodyLittle Mix has been going from strength to strength as a girl group, far beyond the original talent show platform that put them in the public eye. They have released six albums in nine years and they are still makeup of the same formation they began with. It is a rare thing to see in this day and age, and they continue to grow in fame, with a new television show hitting the screens where their original roles are reversed: this time they sit in the judge’s chairs, on the lookout for young talent.

There have also been high profile media storms around some of the relationships they have been in and also a public journey of shame and well-being from Jesi, in which we learned how much pressure she has been under from the media and trolls who chastised her for having a less-than-perfect figure. All this has added to the celebrity and strengthened the bond between the group and their adoring fans.

“Sweet Melody” looks set to add a few million views to their standard view count. It already stands at nearly 10 million in only 3 days. Indeed, it seems like it could be a tipping point, one where their status rises to the stratospheric levels of the world’s most influential girl groups. It will make up part of Confetti, their new album that will be released on RCA UK in early November. One top comment expresses the feeling that all fans can get behind: “the looks, the dancing, the song itself….fierce af and i am actually dead right now!” Indeed, a highly polished music video only adds to the song’s appeal, and the “do do do do do do do” opening is already being called iconic by some fans.

TXT (투모로우바이투게더) ‘Blue Hour’ Official MV

txt blue hourThis is a release that epitomizes the success of K-pop. Barely seven hours after its release (at the time of writing), it has over 3 million views on Youtube and over 1 million likes. A view to the like ratio that good is completely unheard of outside of K-pop and the most groundbreaking, internet shattering releases from other genres. The game is up, let’s all go home: K-pop is the world’s most popping genre of music and there are few arguments left for any naysayers.

“Blue Hour” is the release in question. It is a track by TXT, who is right up there with the likes of BTS and Blackpink when it comes to the hype surrounding new releases. Their new song also encapsulates another, more recent, the trope of K-pop sound, which is the blending of other genres into pure pop production and big, bright set pieces. This time, we get a rhythm section that brings the groove, with shuffling drums and tight bass on the verses. It is even more refreshing since the opening section plays like a spacey, folk dream sequence – when the beat kicks in it slap more due to the counterbalance of moods.

We might compare this to Bruno Mars, or some of Mark Ronson’s funkier production pieces. That is something that will bode very well for a group that is already making waves with American fans. Singing in a mix of Korean and English, with the main chorus hooks coming in English, will only add to this effect. The visuals, as expected, make for a sumptuous, colorful wonderland, populated with smoldering stares, energetic choreography, and sheer watchability. Expect to see this one break records for the group, cementing their spot at the top of the most popping industry in world music.


TWICE I CAN'T STOP ME“Jihyo: Queen Nayeon: Queen Sana: Queen Momo: Queen Mina: Queen Chaeyoung: Queen Jeongyeon: Queen Tzuyu: Queen Dahyun: Queen Twice: Perfect Talentated Queens.”

So reads a top comment on the brand new music video from TWICE, called “I Can’t Stop Me.” It is a testament to the place they hold within the K-pop world and the proof is in the pudding: their new track is likely to hit 10 million views in the first 12 hours at the time of writing.

It is impossible to overstate the size of TWICE’s fanbase. It extends all over the world and, especially amongst kids, they are the group who command attention, perhaps even more so than titans like BTS and Blackpink. Whatever the numbers, they are in the conversation, and that is special considering the success of K-pop as an expert all around the world. From Seoul to California, kids in playgrounds are more likely to speak about these groups than almost anything else.

With this release, they have also embraced a particular trend within K-pop, and more widely: synthpop, following other groups like EVERGLOW. It is the sound of the moment and takes the genre into still more experimental areas. There is a turbo-charged verse and a big moment chorus, which is a welcome return to the climax-lead tracks that K-pop made its name on (according to a popular review site, thebiaslist).

All that is left to talk about is the visuals, and there is no disappointing there (unsurprisingly). Color, fast dancing, impeccable outfits, a whole lotta attitude … it is original, quirky, and big. Everything we’d expect from a release of this magnitude. Get used to the sound if you aren’t already, this is the most-loved soundscape in the world right now, and it is here to stay.

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