Friday, September 25, 2009

Tata Young - Ready For Love

Tata Young's "Ready For Love" is the best pop album that you most likely haven't heard this year. Fans of Asian pop will no doubt be familiar with the Thai superstar but her third English language album should expose the diva to a whole new audience. It's notoriously difficult for Asian artists to crossover (see BoA and Utada for starters) but Tata stands as good a chance as anyone. She's gorgeous, sings in completely accent free English (unlike many of her colleagues) and has some serious backing given the list of high profile writers and producers on her album. The result is one of the year's most unexpected pop triumphs. Songs like "Ready For Love", "My Bloody Valentine", "Ugly" and "Exposed" match or surpass anything being produced by American or European pop stars. In fact, my only criticism is the pacing of the album - which starts off fast to mid-tempo before switching to mostly ballads. However, it's a minor complaint when the songs are this good. Here's my track by track review:

Ready For Love
I was ready for just about any kind of musical direction but I was still surprised by this retro-pop/Motown influenced opening track. Think of "Ready For Love" as hybrid between "Crazy In Love" and Girls Aloud's "The Promise" (if the latter wasn't utter shit). The genre has been explored to death lately but there's something undeniably catchy about this little offering, which shouldn't come as much of a surprise given the involvement of Mark Taylor (Kylie, Cher and Holly Valance). I love the horns and brass and Tata displays the full versatility of her voice. The video steals rather shameless from Beyoncé but that just adds to its charm.

Mission Is You
This track was written by a bunch of songwriters that I've never heard of before(Hiten Bharadia, Philippe-Marc Anquetil and Christopher Lee-Joe) but they should be high on every dance/pop diva's wishlist if "Mission Is You" is any indication. I love everything about this track. The lyrics are fabulous ("I am no longer your prey, I'm the predator"), the shiny production is littered with catchy hooks and Tata coos in her sexiest voice. "Mission Is You" wouldn't sound out of place on Kylie's "X" album. I hope Tata will pursue this sound further in the future. Dance music could really do with her fabulousness.

Burning Out
Like every other diva with recording contract, Tata turned to Sweden to help polish her pop. The Thott brothers have written songs for Dannii, Celine Dion and Lindsay Lohan in the past but I think "Burning Out" is probably the prettiest piece of music they've put their name too. Songs about falling out of love are usually melodramatic or depressing but this is soft and honest. It's also the album's first mid-tempo ballad and as such, represents a taste of what's to come. I kind of understand why Tata concentrates on this sound so intently. It really does highlight the purity of her voice and her uncanny ability to interpret emotional lyrics. I just think there can be too much of a good thing.

My Bloody Valentine
Now this is something extraordinary. The album's second single is one of the year's best pop songs. It's another mid-tempo ballad but the mix of electronic and classical elements is jarringly beautiful and the lyrics perfectly capture the emotional minefield of a love/hate relationship. My only concern with releasing this as a single is the fact that it might be a little too subtle for radio. It's the kind of song that slowly works its way into your head after repeated listens. Maybe something more instant would have been a wiser choice but there's no denying the quality of this pop gem. The video is gorgeous too.

You know, it's strange. Everyone knows that Britney bores the hell out of me but I think I have a soft spot for cheap Britney knock-offs. "Ugly" could have been lifted right off "Circus" with its trashy lyrics ("I'll play you out like PSP, Ninetendo Wii, Sega 3") and heavy beats, which sound like they have stolen straight from Pharell's laptop. It's more than a little derivative and probably one of the album's least original tracks but I can't get enough it. I love the fuck you sentiment and Tata's fierce attitude. They should seriously consider going with this as a single in certain international markets (ie. the US and Australia).

Words Are Not Enough
Scandipop lovers will find a lot to enjoy on this album. Martin Ankelius (Pandora, Pernilla Wahlgren & Anna S) takes over writing duties on "Words Are Not Enough" and comes up with a typically Swedish take on the American pop sound. I love the swirling synths and layered beats set against Tata's understated interpretation of the bittersweet lyrics. I complained earlier about one too many mid-tempo ballads but I take it back when they are this good. This is one for all the diehard romantics out there.

Ready For Love

Obi Mhondera is one of the great unsung international pop songwriters. The Zimbabwean has written great music for BoA, Queensberry, Mutya Buena, Monrose and the Sugababes without attracting the attention of his Swedish counterparts. "Suffocate" is an epic electro ballad that reminds me a lot of Bjork's late 90s output - only with a modern twist. I love the atmospheric walls of sound and the ethereal vocal delivery. This is an unexpectedly classy opus.

Shine Like A Superstar
Oh hell, it's that song again! I believe Latvia's DJ Ella covered it first, swiftly followed by The Ultrasonics from England and the Dutch Queen of dance. My favourite version is definitely the latter. EliZe walks the fine line between edgy pop and cheap Eurotrash with the skill of an acrobat, while the other interpretations fall into one camp or the other. I was excited to hear what Tata could bring to the song but sadly her cover falls flat. The production sounds painfully cheap and Tata lacks her usual energy. It's still a great song but this is a disappointment.

Jesus, take the wheel. I'm about to say something I never thought would pass my lips. Leona Lewis has actually written a good song! I have no idea how a track penned by pop's biggest bore ended up on Tata's album but thank God, it wasn't ruined by Leona's own hideous vocal gymnastics. This is a fairly standard mid-tempo R'n'B love song but the lyrics are cute and Tata's voice sounds particularly beautiful. Think of this as highly appealing filler.

Boys Will Be Boys
Sweden's Cheiron studios have churned out more than their fair share of great pop songs and "Boys Will Be Boys" is another fine example. Written by Andreas Carlsson (Britney, Katy Perry and Carrie Underwood), "Boys Will Be Boys" is squarely aimed at the American market. It comes from the same school of mid-tempo urban tinged pop as just about everything Stargate has ever released but it's never boring or overly derivative. I love the acoustic intro and the lyrics are darker than your standard American fare. This would be a hit if it were released by any old run of the mill urban diva.

Love Is The Law
After a string of decidedly American mid-tempo pop tunes, it's something of a relief to hear this very European sounding electro ballad courtesy of Anders Wollbeck and Mattias Lindblom (Rachel Stevens, Monrose and Alcazar). I love synth drenched ballads with a slightly cheesy twist and that's exactly what "Love Is The Law" delivers. The song is as catchy as hell and definitely stands out as one of the album's strongest tracks. I can imagine this being eyed by eagle eyed A&R departments for future use.

It seems only fitting that such a great pop album should end on a high and "Exposed" more than delivers that. There are so many great songs on "Ready For Love" in a relatively similar style but this gem distinguishes itself with a killer chorus and surprisingly intricate production. However, I keep coming back to the lyrics which seem the most personal to Tata. When she sings "I'm a small town girl from nowhere but I'm making it", you know she's drawing on personal experience. There's a warmth and sincerity about this diva that's impossible to resist. With any luck this album will be her ticket to a much bigger audience. If not, I guess I always import her music from Asia.

My Bloody Valentine


tommie said...

This'll forever be the best Tata track:

(Tata track - teehee)

Craig said...

I love the second clip, my bloody valentine is amazing!!

Is this actually gonna get released here or do i have to steal it?

Paul said...

so.... i should buy it then>!?!

PS my word verification is turpenis!

Tata_Lover said...

OMG! Tata on PTA! I LOVE LOVE LOVE! Tata is number one star in my country and most beautiful woman of all thais. Only thing. Thats not the album cover but still most attractive. I send you!

Tata > BoA > Utada

Bitches you have been told!!!

Anonymous said...

I never even realised Tata was from Thailand ... I mean, the fact I bought her album in Thailand could have been a tip-off, but even so ...
Have loved "Sexy, Naughty, Bitchy" for years. She really deserves a wider audience.

Mike said...

Tommie - I love Tata's short lived gangsta period too!

Craig - Apparently it IS being released in Australia.

Paul - Yes, you would love it. I'm pretty sure.

TL - Yeah I know I used the single cover but it's much prettier than the album cover, don't you think? Tata is brilliant but I'd love to explore more Thai pop stars. Just don't know where to start.

Anon - I thought she was Asian American for years. Mostly because she doesn't have an accent.

Trav said...

Tata is definitely going places. The first single was awful but My Bloody Valentine is great. Mission Is You needs to be the next single!

Hacker_SP said...

I thought she was Asian American for years. Mostly because she doesn't have an accent. << She also sings Thai songs perfectly. I mean she sings Thai songs with Thai native accent.

Nooknick said...

i luve this album of her so much.
This is Amazing album of the year

i like it.

Anonymous said...

she sings 'sexy, naughty, bitchy', right? one of the best songs i've ever heard. i was really addicted to it a few years ago.

i've just finished listening to her songs on youtube. gosh, i'm definitely going to buy the album off amazon. one of best pop albums of the year. thumbs up!

Anonymous said...

AUSTRALIA, Please support her!!
This album is being released in AUS early 2010 ^_^

Now, I just can't wait watching the third MV .. I wish it would be interesting and cool (Mission Is You is one of the best tracts)

Lose some weights and dance more, TATA !!


Anonymous said...

check this out guys!!

u gotta click at the right green button to play this song.

This song is called "kam faa maa ruk gun" (Moon River) from the album Ost. Split Second by Tata Young.
the quality isn't good but u'll love it

Gilbert said...

Of course, the writer is completely fair.
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