- ‘I Am Alive’ app gains popularity in terror-ravaged Lebanon
- Gun giveaways gain popularity among Republican candidates
- S.C. hospital worker slapped with $525 federal fine for refilling $0.89 soda
- Teen from ‘Jihad Jane’ plot becomes youngest ever to serve time on U.S. terror charges
- Iranian woman forgives son’s killer at the gallows
- Nebraska principal sorry for ‘don’t tattle’ flier
- Illinois readies to spend $100M for Obama museum in Chicago
- John Edwards back in court — this time as a lawyer for Va. boy’s malpractice case
- Covered California reports more than 200K in overtime Obamacare sign-ups
- Thanks, Chuck: Hagel says U.S. sending Ukraine sleeping mats, helmets
LISTENING STATION: Nicki Minaj, Rascal Flatts
Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded
Universal Republic Records
You’ve gotta give it to Nicki Minaj. The girl knows how to market herself.
In the past three months alone, she drummed up anticipation for her second album by performing at the Grammy Awards, appearing onstage during the Super Bowl halftime show, singing her new single on “American Idol” and making two guest appearances on Madonna’s last album. Now, thanks to her omnipresence, you don’t even have to be an R&B fan to recognize Miss Minaj’s face. You only need to have the most basic familiarity with pop culture.
Here’s the problem, though. On “Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded,” her music isn’t nearly as entertaining as her persona.
Miss Minaj is the kind of musician who needs to be seen as well as heard. She dresses herself in ridiculous outfits and twitches like an epileptic during her performances, which rely as much on visual spectacle as musical talent. It’s hard to capture such a supersized personality on CD, even one as manic as “Roman Reloaded.”
These songs certainly try their hardest to convey the crazy, multicolored whirlwind that is Miss Minaj, though. They bounce between vulgar hip-hop and candy-coated pop, allowing her to show off her rapid-fire rapping skills one minute and her Rihanna-like croon the next. At 69 minutes, the 19-track “Roman Reloaded” is excessive in every possible way, from the long list of guest artists - Lil Wayne, Cam’ron, Rick Ross, Nas, Drake, Bobby V, among them - to the way Miss Minaj performs each song in a variety of voices.
The “voices” run the gamut from a cockney accent, a boisterous hip-hop snarl, a divalike warble and an exaggerated, vibrato-heavy Broadway belt. Maybe this sort of schizophrenic approach suits an album that jumps between ballads, party jams and R-rated rap songs, but the whole thing feels like a little much. The listener is forced to sift through all of the voices, wondering which ones are imitations and which ones actually belong to Miss Minaj.
“Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded” connects during the emotional moments. “Right By My Side” is a surprisingly tender ballad, and “Marilyn Monroe” examines the dangerous side-effects of a life spent in the limelight. Both songs remind us that Miss Minaj can actually sing, too - and when she does, she trumps many of her Top 40 contemporaries.
Those moments are few and far between, though. “Roman Reloaded” wants to shock you, not soothe you, and its ambition winds up being its downfall.
Big Machine Records
TWT Video Picks
By Joy Overbeck
Redemption by government is futile
- BOLTON: A 'three-state solution' for Middle East peace
- Obama taunts GOP, takes nationally televised victory lap on Obamacare
- Joe Biden's first Instagram pic mocked as shill for sunglass ad
- Jews being told to register in Ukraine: John Kerry
- Rand and Ron Paul ride to the rescue for Bundy in Nevada standoff with feds
- WEBER: Obamacare cuts home healthcare for millions of seniors
- IRS emails reveal discussion with Justice about suing nonprofits for election activities
- Cliven Bundy's Nevada ranch wrecked by retreating feds
- Army goes to war with National Guard, seizes Apache attack helicopters
- Brewer signs 1 of 4 pro-gun bills passed Wednesday
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.