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Music Review: Jennifer Hudson – Jennifer Hudson

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Jennifer Hudson's self-titled debut album isn't a masterpiece. Given that the album had gone through several setbacks and delays prior to its release, it's obvious that there was no one at the helm who knew what to do with the former American Idol contestant and Oscar winner. That being said, and in light of her recent family tragedy, the album does showcase the things she's good at as well as the things she needs to fix in her future musical endeavors.

The best songs on the album, to me, do not include either "Spotlight," which feels Beyonce-ish, or "Pocketbook," a rather mismatched club song featuring verses from Ludacris. The best songs are the ones from her church background. Although a track like "Jesus Promised Me A Home Over There" is tailored to a gospel audience, others such as "We Gon' Fight," "Giving Myself," and "You Pulled Me Through" also seem sprinkled with a bit of the holy ghost.

Trying to do a redux on "The Boy Is Mine," Hudson paired with Fantasia (also from American Idol) for "I'm His Only Woman." The song is okay, but it lacks the punch and slightly dramatic effect of the former. That might have more to do with circumstances back when "The Boy Is Mine" was released, though, as rumors circulated that Monica and Brandy really were enemies and were fighting over Usher.

If Hudson had a tighter collection of songs this go round, she would soar tremendously on the charts. She doesn't appear to be a woman who would favor a hip-hop sound as on "Pocketbook" or something that has a Beyonce kick with "Spotlight." The more mature songs like "You Pulled Me Through" and "We Gon' Fight" are more her steelo. If she feels more slanted towards gospel, then she should take a swing at that genre and forget about climbing the mainstream charts.

I believe Jennifer Hudson will pull through the recent events in her life due to the fact that she has this strong church background within her. Musically, if she taps into that foundation rather than whatever the current musical style of the moment, she will truly be at the place she wants to be on her future albums.

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About Matthew Milam

  • Steph P. (Washington, DC)

    I couldn’t disagree more with this review. The thing that Jennifer did do right with her debut CD is to showcase her versatility as a solo recording artist. So I’ll just point out a few things here:

    1. Weren’t the delays with the album due to her movie roles in Dreamgirls, Sex and the City and The Secret Life of Bees? Oh, and let’s not forget Oscar…she spent some time with him as well.

    2. Why does “Spotlight” sound Beyonce-ish? In fact, it sounds nothing like anything Beyonce would sing. How can we compare the two of them when they clearly have two different styles and approaches to their music? Spotlight was a great choice for the first single and “If This isn’t Love” is guaranteed to top the charts when it is released as her second.

    3. I don’t think that “I’m his only woman” is a redux of “The Boy is Mine”. Jen’s song clearly is more contemporary and mature. Monica & Brandys song discuss a boy they’re fighting to get while Jen and Fantasia have both been played by the same man and refuse to bow out. Two different songs, and clearly seperate in their meanings.

    4.. Why does Jennifer need to stick with the more soulful songs on her album? “Pocketbook” was a welcomed surprise and I for one was glad to hear an upbeat song. It demonstrates her versatility and willingness to take risks. The collaborations on this CD were just enough, from Ludacris to T-Pain to Fantasia, they were all great.

    Now I would lie and say that I don’t listen to her CD every day but the truth is that I can’t stop listening to it. She’s nominated for FOUR grammys and she deserves every single one. As excited as she was to put out her first album, is as excited as I am to see it soar to the top of the charts.

    So Matthew, as I lie in bed typing away on my treo, awakened by your CD review, I hope you realize that “we goin’ fight” if you don’t start to put Jennifer’s album back in the “Spotlight”. :)

  • lydia

    This review is pretty accurate. This album sucks big time! What a waste of a very talented vocalist.

  • Amanda

    I couldn’t disagree more with this review. I think this album is the perfect album to showcase Jennifer’s talents. Spotlight is my favorite song.

  • Mindtown

    you have some valid points, but I disagree with the overall premis. I think the production lacked a distinct enough sound to make it a truly great album, but where it matters most (jennifer Hudson’t performance) there is nothing lacking. The lady knows how to sing and does it very well. Songs like “can’t stop the rain” “we gon’ fight”, “invisible” are just gorgeous.

    And there will be time in the future for growth into her own sound, but with record companies decding which track makes it on the album its hard for any artist to truly be who they are, so I give her props for shining though in a highly comercialized business.

    Most importantly, I ENJOY listening to the CD, especially her voice.

  • uhuru

    i love her album it is unique and shows her different talents,some of us like every type of music and she represented all of us,these songs are not supposed to be bubble gum songs,they grow on you…. i thought she wud do neo-soul but she suprised me by bringing her own sound,i think it is diffucult to understand it if you are so used to what is played today,she will grow and we as listeners will grow and understand real music, i love her huge and soulful voice,sometimes i just enjoy listening to her voice bcoz it is an instrument on its own

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