Akon- Freedom Album Review

Some bands and artists try to change their style slightly to get new fans while keeping their older one happier.

Akon has had two number one singles in the UK

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.

Will comedy music become mainstream?

Comedy music can come in many different forms such as parodies of popular songs, novelty songs, comedy rock and comedy hip hop and is just seen as a bit of fun but is it now actually becoming something that a lot of people will listen to?

The Midnight Beast seem to have alerted everyone to their music with their TV show and are now starting to make an impact on the ITunes charts as well as getting praise from other artists. The group from London have been getting positive reactions from not only the general public but also the people that they are parodying. ‘Tik Tok Parody’ reached number 90 in the UK and even Ke$ha stated on her website that it was even better than her version. Surely then it is only a matter of time before they bring out a song that will go right near the top of the charts? On YouTube they have over 300,000 subscribers and and a combined 50 million views on their channel which just shows how popular the group are and now with their TV being out, I expect their album which is due out on the 13th August to be a massive success.

Stefan, Dru and Ashley are hoping to make it big in the UK

However, it is easy to say they will be a success and its clear people like their songs but that doesn’t mean people will want to pay for them. If they do need to loom somewhere for inspiration then Weird Al Yankovic is certainly someone that has made a living out of parodying songs and writing his own comedy songs as he has sold over 12 million albums and received four gold records and six platinum records in America.

‘Weird Al’ even reached the top 10 of the Billboard 200 in 2006 with his album ‘Straight Outta Lynwood’ with even the title of his album being a parody of N.W.A’s album ‘Straight Outta Compton’. Even the single ‘White & Nerdy’ (a parody of Ridin Dirty by Chamillionaire) reached number 9 and it just goes to show that comedy can make a mark on the charts.

The Lonely Island are probably the most similar to The Midnight Beast in America and they have had even more success some would argue than ‘Weird Al’ as they have collaborated with a lot of artists including T-Pain, Akon, Justin Timberlake, Rihanna and Natalie Portman. These are some huge artists in the world of music, with the exception of Portman who is an actress. They, like The Midnight Beast first started off on YouTube but they have quickly grown into a well known group all around the world.

There are plenty more examples of music being influenced by comedy, for example, Tenacious D use a lot of jokes in their songs and they in my opinion would fit into the bracket of comedy rock along with Bloodhound Gang (although they are less ‘rock’). The list does go on and they are getting huge numbers of hits on YouTube like Flight of the Conchords.

That could be part of the problem though people want to have a laugh listening to their songs but do they really want it to come on whilst listening to their iPod on shuffle? My guess would be no and that is why it is difficult just to focus on the music and a lot of the ‘singers’ have to do other things such as TV work or even just be a comedian and use music in their work such as Bo Burnham and Tim Minchin.