Sia - "Reaper" (Singles Going Steady)

This is very much a mid-tempo, MOR pop jam, but also serves as a bit of levity from Sia.

Evan Sawdey: For those who don't know, the concept for Sia's forthcoming album This Is Acting is fascinating: all of the songs recorded here are ones she co-wrote and offered to other artists who, for one reason or another, turned them down. "Alive", the shoulda-been hit that was co-written with and intended for Adele, was a great opening salvo, but "Reaper", intended for Rihanna, would not have fit with the tinted-window self-empowering hagiography that has been her calling card as of late. As such, this is very much a mid-tempo, MOR pop jam, but also serves as a bit of levity from Sia, who otherwise trades in more higher-end artistic statements with her own work, here finding a nice middle-ground between commercial impact and personal declarative. Not changing the world, but it sure as heck ain't bad either, whetting appetites for the full-length that's yet to come. [6/10]

Jedd Beaudoin: Pitched mouth noises over a rhythm that grows dull about 20 seconds in. She can sing and her first material was really fascinating but it's all kind of hart to differentiate at some point and I can't say I'd know who this was if it came on the radio -- even if I'd heard it 100 times before. She gets a lot of love from folks and wore some weird stuff on Saturday Night Live a while back. Then I changed the station. [4/10]

Dustin Ragucos: Dear Kanye: If you touch a pop musician's songs, then please, dear goodness, do not make them sound like a really bad Katy Perry track. The blame is also on Sia. What happened? Juxtaposing death and life should make way for appealing takes. This is not the case when the light is too overpowering. [3/10]

SCORE: 4.33

Over the Rainbow: An Interview With Herb Alpert

Music legend Herb Alpert discusses his new album, Over the Rainbow, maintaining his artistic drive, and his place in music history. "If we tried to start A&M in today's environment, we'd have no chance. I don't know if I'd get a start as a trumpet player. But I keep doing this because I'm having fun."

Jedd Beaudoin

The Cigarette: A Political History (By the Book)

Sarah Milov's The Cigarette restores politics to its rightful place in the tale of tobacco's rise and fall, illustrating America's continuing battles over corporate influence, individual responsibility, collective choice, and the scope of governmental power. Enjoy this excerpt from Chapter 5. "Inventing the Nonsmoker".

Sarah Milov
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