PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

Kevin Rudolf: To the Sky

Kevin Rudolf may have done the melodramatic urban opera shiznit first, but To The Sky falls flat on its face.

Kevin Rudolf

To the Sky

Label: Cash Money
US Release Date: 2010-06-15
UK Release Date: 2010-06-14

Jason Derulo might be the number one artist, but Kevin Rudolf did the melodramatic urban opera shiznit first. "Let It Rock" was passably diverting and genre defying, a stadium rock take on R&B, and To the Sky is Rudolf’s follow up record. However, released in the shadow of Derulo’s goliath debut, which is as irresistibly catchy as it is infuriatingly irritating, To the Sky comes up as neither of these things.

A record that neither gets stuck in your head nor screams to be turned off is a non-entity, a space for substance simply filled with air by artists with nothing to say. And as guest rapper after guest rapper makes an appearance on Rudolf’s sophomore effort, it’s shocking as to just how little this supposed all-star line-up of American’s most successful urban names actually have to say.

Lil Wayne makes two appearances, each besmirching his reputation further, including the lazy middle-finger anthem "Spit in Your Face", which rehashes the grunge-hop of Wayne’s own "Drop the World", but this time round the urban-rock crossover resembles Nickelback meets Timbaland, a pompous match made in hell. Rudolf takes this one step further with "Big Timer", a shockingly blatant copy of Nickelback’s "Rockstar".

Wayne also appears alongside Birdman and Jay Sean on lead single "I Made It", which is autopilot for all artists involved. From the holier-than-thou wall of synths and saccharine lifeless R&B croons of Sean, to Birdman’s and Lil Wayne’s respective streams of unconsciousness, the track is nauseatingly dull. The two rappers seem content to let rip about money and rags to riches, subjects which can apparently never be mentioned enough. But when Rudolf’s sluggish throwaway of a backing track is anything but diverting or exciting, all artists involved seem like deluded bores well past their sell-by-date. Talk of the devil, Flo Rida’s air gun flow (of sorts) only exacerbates the clumsy romantic metaphors of "You Make the Rain Fall", which unfold monotonously over Adam Lambert’s "For Your Entertainment" backing track.

Rudolf nicks middle-of-the-road urban pop cliches left, right, and centre, and To the Sky is subsequently devoid of personality. To his credit, Rudolf is more diverting when he drops the tepid hip-hop collaborations and dabbles in shameless powerpop hooks. "Must Be Dreamin'" sports poppy guitars and vocal hiccups that Katy Perry wouldn’t be ashamed of, and the track has enough simple melodic charm to warm to. But it's clear that Rudolf exhausts his melodic creativity remarkably swiftly, and spreads the residue thinly over the rest of the record.

Kevin Rudolf is (barely) living proof that the high saturation of sub-mediocre diluted R&B in the charts has left creativity lagging behind in fourth place behind glamour, money, and how crisp a handclap you can produce.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.


Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.


CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.


Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.


While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.


Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.


Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.


Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.


In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.


The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.


The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.


The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.


When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.


20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.


The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.


Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.