When a reader tweeted me the other day and told me that Skylar Grey’s long-delayed Don’t Look Down album had actually been released –like, for REAL– I LOL’d like a motherfucker. How could I not? But I didn’t come here to drag Skylar’s impending chart flop like some cunt. I commend Interscope for actually bothering to release it instead of leaving her debut disc to gather cocaine particles in some record exec’s desk drawer like so many other pop albums have before it. If Interscope had just done this in the past, we’d have fifty Cassie albums by now, as well as the Paradiso Girls’ Crazy Horse, Christina Milian’s Dream In Color/Elope/Untitled, and even Swastika’s Her Name Is Nicole (not that anybody actually wanted Her Name Is Nicole in the first place, but you know what I mean).
Anyway, back to Don’t Look Down. It’s a pretty mixed bag and I don’t planning on listening to much of it again in the future, but there’s three songs that have slayed me, and if Skylar had just made more songs like those, then her solo career might have played out a bit differently.
Skylar goes bubblegum grunge on this one, which takes notes from Nevermind-era Nirvana and updates it to driving pop-rock with a radio-friendly sheen. “Weirdo” would be better served by an artist like Pink, who has the vocal grunt to really get down and dirty with it (and could probably even turn this into a commercial hit, despite the Try This-ness of it all). (Listen Here)
This is my absolute favorite, and I’ve got a good reason: I’m a ridiculously huge Fiona Apple stan, and this sounds exactly like Tidal-era Fiona. And when I say exactly, I mean EXACTLY — all caps! Skylar even uses the word “discern,” for Christ’s sake. But it’s absolutely beautiful. If Skylar had Fiona’s voice, I’d rate “White Suburban” just as good as half the stuff on Tidal. It’s actually the album’s latest single, which is both shocking and amazing. Call your local station and request it, yo’. (Listen Here)
Another ’90s throwback, “Pulse” taps into the alternative-rock of the decade, and once again, sounds like early Fiona Apple — very “Limp” meets “Sleep to Dream.” Like “White Suburban,” “Pulse” is so great because it shows off Skylar’s songwriting skills, and god knows how badly we need some better songwriters in the pop scene. “Come take my pulse to see how much I care,” Skylar growls. “You won’t get a rise out of me anywhere.” The lyrics are very Jagged Little Pill, but that’s hardly a bad thing. (Listen Here)
I’m a bit biased with these picks because I love ’90s alt music about as much as I love Asian pop and Janet Jackson (a lot), but they’re clearly the best of the bunch, personal bias aside. Skylar should’ve NEHVAH let Eminem executive-produce this album, and she definitely shouldn’t have axed that Marilyn Manson collaboration she was harping on about a few years ago. Besides the title track and the Angel Haze feature, all the generic Alex Da Kid hip-hop stuff needs to go. Because seriously, who wouldn’t want a whole album filled with shameless knock-offs of the biggest alternative acts of the ’90s? It’d be amazing, and Skylar could have been the one to do it.