Fun., Jennifer Hudson, Neon Hitch

Reviews of new tracks everyone is talking about.
March 16, 2012


Fun. is worthy of the period at the end of their band name. Fun. is full-stop fun. And punctuation aside, they are also full-stop talent. Sophomore album Some Nights is no slump, and the Brooklyn-based band invite listeners over for night of entertainment. What surprises us most is how UK this band seems. Picking up where Mika leaves off with a sound reminiscent of Queen, Fun. lead singer Nate Ruess is at times a dead ringer for Freddie Mercury. Fans of 1970s progressive rock will love this album, but it’s pretty clear from the already No. 1 single “We Are Young (feat. Janelle Monáe)” that its appeal has lots of us getting into the fun. The places where the album falters is where it tries to be too modern: the blatant Autotune on “Stars” is wholly unnecessary and distracting, especially considering Ruess’ stellar chops. 
There’s so much to love about Jennifer Hudson. Whether the obvious vocal chops to her ever-evolving and inspiring story, we’ve always felt Hudson just needed stronger and more upbeat material to match her amazingness. Keeping it real, her first two albums were weighed down with far too many ballads. So it’s nice to hear Hudson losing the heaviness faster than you can say Weight Watchers and taking up the lighter, more up-tempo and sassy “Think Like a Man” (from the movie of the same name arriving April 20). The track teams her up nicely with Ne-Yo and Rick Ross. It feels like a natural fit and a great pocket to start her new album in. (We can’t wait for the remixes!)
Neon Hitch doesn’t get off without a hitch on “Fuck U Betta,” meant to be the lead single off her debut album coming this summer. We’re not totally following the appeal—or the story. Neon is more like one of those fluorescent bulbs that casts unflattering light and quickly works your nerves. Whether it’s the annoying super-Autotuned vocals that feel very 2008 (or is that 2000-and-late?) and suggest little underlying vocal talent, or the personae and delivery that’s something like if a Britney impersonator were badly imitating Lady Gaga, or the tracks that aren’t all that intriguing or catchy, or the clean version that just seems silly— “Fuck U Betta” does little to inspire. Then there’s the accompanying music video that lacks excitement and dimension—and has Rihanna’s old red-hair extensions hitched up to Hitch. We can think of quite a few ladies on the pop scene who can do us betta—with their songs, singing and style for starters—so hopefully Neon will bring something better to light us up with next time.