Thursday, July 30th, 2009

Chrisette Michele – Blame It On Me

Stayin’ classy…


Anthony Miccio: “And I Am Telling You I’m All For Your Going (Just Hang Around Until I’m Done With My Big Melodramatic Stink About How Much I Don’t Care)”

Martin Skidmore: I think she’s perhaps the world’s most promising singer right now, maybe alongside Jazmine Sullivan. Her voice is absolutely beautiful, and she has all the technical gifts you could want; however, she is sometimes too laid back for me. This is a genuinely emotional performance, with her full palette of vocal tricks deployed to great effect, as she accepts the blame for a failed relationship. Her best so far, a glorious and moving single, and one of my favourite vocals of recent years.

Martin Kavka: Compare how she sings “You can say whatever you like, as long as we just say goodbye” at 0:53 and 2:05; it is as if every second Michele continues to sing causes her the deepest pain. Continuing to listen to this song after the two-minute mark makes me feel as if I’m violating her privacy, and for this reason I’m frankly not quite sure if I ever want to listen to this again. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad song; in fact, it shows that Michael Jackson’s “She’s Out Of My Life” is a steaming turd by comparison.

Ian Mathers: You really have passed the point of no return, buddy — once she gets to the point where she’s telling you that you can accuse her of anything, as long as you leave, it’s over. She’s not even fighting with you any more: that’s not wounded pride in the chorus, it’s the refusal to keep engaging with you that means you’re doomed. At least she’s letting you know via a dynamite vocal performance (one that reminds me that Whitney Houston used to be more than a reality show punchline).

Alfred Soto: The way Michele’s voice cracks just before a crucial outpouring of emotion goes a long way towards massaging this sinister example of submissiveness (Kelly Clarkson would have belted the bathos right on your lap). I mean, “You can say whatever you like/As long as we say goodbye” is an odd thing to tell a lover, especially if it’s clear that you think he’s a shit.

Hillary Brown: It’s not what one would ever describe as “catchy,” but even I can admit there’s occasionally more to a song than mere earwormishness, and Michele’s vocal ballet on this track is totally impressive, especially when she breaks out the glides. It’s kind of a big, showstopping number, which might not be your thing, but it’s very good for its category.

Iain Mew: A little too slight for anything other than Chrisette’s voice to make a first impression. Luckily, that’s intoxicating enough on its own to invite further listens. The lovely details all around then gradually come into their own too – the spooked wineglass-rim intro and soft little electronic swishes across the verses, the drums that sound like downscaled symphonic thunder and the final, sad little wave goodbye from the piano.

Michaelangelo Matos: Even her blubbering is worked out to the last detail, and while I could use fewer sharp break intakes she’s still got a good lyric to work with. I eagerly await Ne-Yo’s inevitable Broadway musical, no joke.

Chuck Eddy: Drums enter huge out of nowhere, cracking like they’re out to break a levee, but fade into the background as soon as there are other things to hear. Then Chrisette commences showing off her pipes and emotion, to admittedly not merely nutritious but also not especially memorable effect. Songwriting achieves competence.

John Seroff: Chrisette Michele can sing a blue streak; she’s technically proficient, clear toned, she has a unique and recognizable singing style and on her own she has somehow never moved me a quarter as much as when she was buddying up with Nas and Jigga. Michele’s producers build soul with a compass and a protractor: functional and cold. It’s not so much that this is a bad song or a boring song as it is a stuffy one. It’s rigid and unhuggable and it makes me worry about what American Idol is doing to our national talent pool while we’re not paying attention. See, I blame myself.

Alex Ostroff: Epiphany is very much of a piece, and the stylistic coherency of the album can result in an overall impression of blandness, where tracks bleed into one another with little distinction. In isolation, Chrisette’s songs are detailed and different relationship perspectives, her voice an evocative ache. Here, she presents a no-fault break-up song, neither busting his windows, or in love with another man. Remorseful but determined, acknowledging anger without getting defensive, “Blame It On Me” is the perfect soundtrack for self-righteously being the bigger person.

5 Responses to “Chrisette Michele – Blame It On Me”

  1. “Michael Jackson’s “She’s Out Of My Life” is a steaming turd by comparison”
    ^^^could not disagree more^^^

  2. I thought there might be one or two more very high marks for this, but I guess this does hit my core territory, in that there is nothing I love more than old soul music, and in particular the style of singing on those records.

  3. Yeah, me too! But this is way more processed and shined up than anything even Spector got his mitts on.

  4. cracking like they’re out to break a levee

    That’s what I heard too, Chuck.

    (Michele’s performance doesn’t move me in the slightest, but John’s comment is apt, since I would enjoy this on American Idol while waiting for Brooke White or Jordin Sparks to come out and do something convincing.)

  5. Yeah, I’ve always found everything I’ve heard of hers super-annoying Billie Holliday pastiche. But maybe that’s because I’ve mostly heard her screamingly awful guest appearances on various Def Jam records. Her and Marsha Ambrosius of Floetry had a stretch for a few years where between the two of them they ruined at least one song on every major rap release.