Marketed and distributed by SonyBMG Music Entertainment

Funhouse is not only Pink’s 5th studio album, but in my opinion also her most substantial in terms of style and lyrical content. While Pink’s publicist persists that she and Carey Hart separated as best friends with mutual love and respect for each other, Funhouse conveys the musings typical of the major ups and downs experienced during a failed love affair; dealing primarily with issues relating to love lost and unclear futures. So What, the first single off the album and also Pink’s first number one on the Billboard Hot 100, sets the tone for the album. It also recently won the MTV Europe Music Award for Most Addictive Song – a very deserving win! Second single, Sober, changes the tone and pace considerably, this time throwing in an anguished rock beat. Adding some blues to the mood, also check out the brilliant Mean. However, where Pink shows the most growth is when it comes to the ballads. Of these, I Don’t Believe You stands out as the most touching and emotionally rich track, and you can’t help but wonder about what really happened in her marriage. Crystal Ball is another stand out acoustic track. It’s however not all heartbreak and gloom – Bad Influence is all about partying and has an infectious feel to it, while the title track’s beat is pure crazy carnival. Divorce can be a nightmare, but Pink has proven that its pain can also lead to heightened creativity and immense success. Funhouse is undoubtedly Pink’s best work to date. It’s brutally honest and shows a vulnerable side to someone who usually comes across as a cocky hard-ass. It’s my album of the year.


Marketed and distributed by Universal Music SA

Until Little Dreamer, her debut album, landed on my doorstep, British singer-songwriter Beth Rowley was unknown to me. Born in Peru and raised in Bristol, Beth studied music at the Brighton Institute of Modern Music under Carleen Anderson (best known as the lead singer for Young Disciples, but a respected soul singer in own right) and toured with Enrique Iglesias and Ronan Keating as a backup singer. Beth has however come a long way, and Little Dreamer is a debut album that will make you do a double-take. She instantly reminds one of Dusty Springfield, Norah Jones and even Eva Cassidy. The album can best be described as an amalgam of pop, blues, gospel and jazz, but with a very distinct soul vein running through it. There are several covers on the CD, with Willie Nelson’s Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground and Bob Dylan’s I Shall Be Released being exemplary examples of Beth’s interpretive craft (even though the tone of the latter slightly diminishes the original’s intent). I also loved the soulful Oh My Life and gospel soul of Almost Persuaded, with the heartfelt blues of One Cloud deserving a special mention. Little Dreamer isn’t instantly likeable, but grows on you gracefully as the blues and soul seeps into your consciousness. Though it plays the genre safely, it is a brilliant introduction to an artist I am positive we’ll be hearing much more from.


Marketed and distributed by SonyBMG Music Entertainment

Don’t let David Archuleta’s boyish face on the cover of his self-titled debut album fool you – this is by no means teeny-bopper pop music. As the runner-up in American Idol season seven, David is already a household name in the USA, and thanks to the first single off this album, Crush, he’s making a steady name for himself in South Africa as well. It’s not easy to describe his music, as it’s a much more mature type of pop than you would expect from someone so young (he’s only 18). The album strikes a brilliant balance between mid-tempo, radio-friendly pop and slow love songs. Crush remains a highlight, and A Little Too Not Over You, Touch My Hand, Running and Don’t Let Go (which he co-wrote) also stand out on the pop side of things. David however shines as a balladeer. I especially loved You Can and Desperate, while the strength of his young voice impressed on the moving To Be With You. Regardless of whether he’s singing radio-songs or ballads, there’s a unique soulful maturity in every track that should equate into significant longevity. Depending on future influences and repertoire choices, I see no reason why David Archuleta cannot become a top-selling artist into the future. It’s a remarkable album, and an even more impressive debut.


Marketed and distributed by Universal Music SA

Boyzone was one of the original boy bands of the ‘90s and rode the wave of success along with groups like Take That in the UK and Backstreet Boys and N*Sync in the US. Of the original members, Ronan Keating probably had the most successful solo career, although openly gay Stephen Gately also released a couple of solo albums. Back Again…No Matter What is a collection of Boyzone’s most memorable hits, and include classics like Love Me For a Reason, No Matter What and I Love The Way You Love Me, as well as all the remakes that made them so popular: Father and Son, Words, Baby Can I Hold You and You Needed Me. The collection also features three brand new tracks. Love You Anyway taps into the retro-vibe that’s still popular post-Amy Winehouse to make for a feel-good, sing-along song. Better is one of those gorgeous low-key love songs that surprises: it doesn’t sound like Boyzone at all (especially Stephen Gately’s haunting voice on the chorus). Can’t Stop Thinking About You has modern electro-pop vibe that instantly makes you think of Erasure, especially once the vocals kick in – I loved it. Whether Boyzone is indeed back for good remains to be seen as boy bands, in the way we know them, may just be a thing of the past. However, there’s much value in looking back on a successful career and memorable tunes that influenced countless people over the years.


Marketed and distributed by SonyBMG Music Entertainment

When it comes to haunting, contemplative songs about love and loss, there is probably no singer that comes as close to crafting perfection as Sarah McLachlan. Even after tasting the sweetness of mainstream success (with Angel, from her album Surfacing, which featured in the movie City of Angels), Sarah has stayed true to herself and her art and has continued to create thoughtful, soulful music that speaks to the mind and the heart. Her songs have a classic, timeless quality to them that endures every season one might experience. Closer: The Best Of brings together fourteen of these songs, including the evergreen Angel. Other gems from her repertoire include Building A Mystery (for which she won a Grammy in 1998), Good Enough, Sweet Surrender, Adia, I Will Remember You, Fallen and World on Fire, the last two from

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