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Arcade Fire: Funeral

By Nadine Levyfield, 16, Eagle Rock HS

Arcade Fire‘s moving album Funeral alternates between melancholy songs of loss and seemingly more upbeat songs whose depressing lyrics are masked by ricocheting build-ups of stunning guitar riffs.

The intro of the first track, "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)," starts out slowly with piano and soft guitar and then adds percussion and builds and builds, like a pebble being thrown into a pond, causing ripples of sound waves that continue to intensify. It captured me from the first beat, and the amazing lyrics about independence and isolation kept me wanting more: "And since there’s no one else around/ we let our hair grow long/ and forget all we used to know."

The seven-member band is fueled by dreamlike lyrics that reminisce about growing up. "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)" is an entrancing anthem about adolescent confusion in a small town covered in snow. "I woke up with the power out/ not really something to shout about/ ice has covered up my parents’ hands/ don’t have any dreams don’t have any plans."

It’s a nice change to hear an indie rock band using less common instruments such as violins, xylophones, harps, and accordions to create an album on which every song sounds different. When I listen to Funeral, I don’t think about death as the title suggests. I think about possibility, as Arcade Fire’s airy melodic beats and idealistic lyrics provide.

Mariah Carey: The Emancipation of Mimi

By Jasmine Smith, 18

I have always loved Mariah Carey and her work. I was brought up listening to her music. When I was a toddler my mom would leave Mariah on and come back and I would be dancing and singing.

The Emancipation of Mimi is her comeback album after a two-year hiatus, and I believe it’s better than her first CD. Don’t get me wrong, I love old-school Mariah who sung "One Sweet Day" and "My All." But on this album, she sings with her same wide vocal range but with more up-to-date hip-hop beats and featuring rappers like Nelly, Twister and Snoop Dogg.

Her comeback single is the club song "It’s Like That." I like it because she sings high and low to a dance beat. Her second single is "We Belong Together," a slow love song in which she’s pleading for the return of her ex-love.

Her fourth single, which can only be found on the ultra platinum edition, is "Don’t Forget About Us." She sings about seeing her first love on the street, which makes her look back on everything they’ve been through. She sings "Baby I must confess/ We were bigger than anything/ Remember us at our best."

I love the whole CD, but my favorite song is "Get Your Number" because Mariah shows her talent by not only singing, but rapping also. She is pretty good at it, and it was nice to see a pop artist being versatile.

Michael Bublé: Caught in the Act

By Susan Cho, 16, Cleveland HS (Reseda)

Michael Bublé‘s Caught in the Act CD brings back the classics of old-school masterful vocalists like Frank Sinatra with a contemporary twist. His music is what would come out if Boyz II Men reunited and recruited Maroon 5’s Adam Levine and pop-folk star Jack Johnson to make a hit. The product of this unique mix would be the "Bublé sound"—music that is soothing, soulful, yet still powerful.

The tracks "Home," "You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine," and "You and I" make this album an instant hit. However, from the lyrics of "Home:" "And I feel just like I’m living someone else’s life/ It’s like I just stepped outside when everything was going right," you can see that they do not contain the most amazing life-changing messages. But in his case, simplicity works. The music takes a hold of you, draws you into the flow of its melody, and gives off the kind of tune that feels most comfortable listening to next to a fireplace with a warm cup of hot chocolate.

Even though this is not typical mainstream music that fits into the categories of rap, rock or R&B that are the most popular among teens, ignoring this CD is a major mistake. The only disappointment that you may face is that it may leave you desperately wanting more. But, for that there is a cure: the ever-faithful replay button.