Some bands and artists try to change their style slightly to get new fans while keeping their older one happier.
This is what R&B and hip hop artist Akon tried to do with his third album ‘Freedom’ and looking at the sales figures and how well he did in the charts it seems like his change in style worked and it was a good album. After being released in December 2008, the album reached number six in the UK Album Charts and number seven on the Billboard 200 but I think that is basically because a lot of people will have bought this album hoping for more of the same from Akon. Straightaway, there is a more dance feel to the album and is obviously very different to his first two albums as it was his first album that didn’t carry a Parental Advisory warning.
So onto the album itself, it is very easy to listen to when you are doing something else but in my opinion this is a bad thing for it because it doesn’t make you take any notice of it and you sort of forget you are listening to music. Akon is a clever writer but this album feels like he hasn’t put in much effort and his usually good hooks are missing so he has let himself down here. Another thing that makes this album poor is the fact that the first two songs are the best ones and I can imagine after the first two songs are played people will just turn it off or go back to the start which is a very wise decision.
In his defence ‘Right Now (Na Na Na) is a very catchy tune and is simple so it is easy to see why a lot of people liked this song. However, for his fans this will have been something strange to them as they may have been expecting more songs like ‘Smack That’. The change from rap to pop is quite a big leap and I know it isn’t a nice thing to say but Akon lost a bit of his edge when he stopped rapping about his past convictions and started singing about getting back together with his partner etc.
Most of the songs are poor but the song ‘Sunny Day’ featuring Wyclef Jean stuck out for me but that is only because Jean really stands out and is amazing because he is clearly a talented man yet he doesn’t overshadow Akon and makes him sound better.
I have slated this album quite a lot but to be honest I could pick out any pop stars album and see that they aren’t very good either which makes me wonder why they sell out big tours and their albums get near to the top of the charts. Pop artists and maybe even more now R&B stars focus on singles rather than albums as they know that if they put out one or two good songs people will buy their albums and come see them live. ‘Freedom’ leaves you feeling empty and this is a real shame as Akon is a decent singer but he uses a lot of effects which makes you realise he’s not confident he can pull off this style of music for a full album.
I think this is where music is going downhill because the bands that are producing good albums and putting in effort in every song are not getting the recognition in the singles charts which means that a lot of people won’t have heard of them or even if they have, they may be reluctant to pay for their albums.