Wednesday, 14 August 2013

#ESPspotlight REVIEW: 'BETWEEN TWO EVILS', AUBREY O'DAY


We all have our guilty pleasures in life. Reality TV is one shared by many, and I know I'm not alone in claiming MTV's Making The Band as one of mine. Resident 'Bad Girl', Aubrey O'Day fascinated me from Day One, and I still feel she got the raw end of the deal when Sean 'I can't work with women long term' Combs, sacked her without warning in front of the cameras.

Fast Forward a few years. An infamous Celebrity Apprentice stint,  a Playboy spread, a few personal scandals, and a solo reality show later; Ms O'Day's time to shine for her musical talents is finally here, in the shape of 'Between Two Evils' - her new 9-track EP, sans label. 

A mixture of RnB-tinged Pop ballads and Club Dance tracks; overall BTE is a fairly good body of work. Some moments do balance precariously on the border between Versatility and just plain Confusion - a residual character flaw from her days with Danity Kane. BUT, on the plus side, her vocals silence the naysayers (*ahem* Diddy / Arsenio Hall *ahem*), who were only too willing to cast her as the least able singer of the bunch on more occasions than one. There are more than a few instances of 'Say what, Say who now?!' when it comes to her lyrical display, but generally, you do forgive her for trying (once you get the overall gist).

BTE opens with 'DJT'; an all-too-familiar break up phonecall with a very weak-sounding manchild. You're in her corner, until she starts getting a tad too whiny, then lose a bit of respect for her, the more she begs and pleads for his declaration of love.

'Unchoose You' redeems her considerably - mainly because it is the best track on the EP, by far. I'm not convinced the 'Full' (Interlude) from Janet Jackson's 'Velvet Rope' really brought anything to the final product but otherwise, the vocals are great, and she communicates her pain believably enough to have you speculating over who the down low celeb romance was, that reportedly inspired this entire project...

Negatives come in the form of tracks like 'Love Me When You Leave' - a David Guetta / Eric Prydz-esque track made for the Summer Isles. Since this here music lover isn't a fan of (can't stand) the genre in the slightest, the track earns no points over here. It goes on so painfully long, that I was in utter shock to see 4:16 on the timer - exactly the same duration as the previous delectable 'Unchoose You'; yet it felt like it went on for a painful extra 3(0) minutes at least...

'Let Me Lay' and 'Hurts So Good' are only a marginal improvement. Still annoyingly 'Dancey', but it's actually her vocals that stop my ears from bleeding. The lyrics on the latter remain in that Cons list - Thank the Heavens above she at least sounds good.

'Before I Drown' is a relief-filled shining moment, that I can just imagine getting picked up for TV and Film soundtracks. A massive, almost Pop-Rock power ballad; our favourite Madam outdoes herself - vocally, lyrically, all-round. It's a job well done, with echoes of 'Signature Hit' throughout. A+.



'Second Call' is a sexy ode to a missed lover that does exactly what Aubrey has always needed: keeps the focus on her talent, first and foremost.

'Devil & Me' continues in the same vein, only in this instance, she loses herself in those 3am reflections; unable to escape her personal flaws and shortcomings. It's raw, honest and returns a credibility often lost in the extraneous hype that surrounds her media persona.

The 'Outro' ties up the whole body of work nice and bondage-like, a la the EP cover, with the admission that her own inner demons play a massive part in how she ends up in some of the situations we've witnessed, since her rise to fame. In short, by the closing track, this Miss demonstrates growth.

It's a wonderful thing, to see that this hugely talented young lady hasn't given up. Besting Daft Punk, Robin Thicke, Justin Timberlake and more on her first day on the iTunes chart, it's clear to see that there is a place in music for Aubrey O'Day. Label backing or not, she has proved herself every bit the definition of a true Bad Girl.