Idina Menzel
Live: Barefoot at the Symphony
Lovers of musicals and jazz will enjoy this CD. Fans of Idina Menzel will adore it. If you hate musicals, it may be a little tough to get into, but not impossible. Menzel is known as Rachel Berry’s birth mother on the popular TV show Glee. But her diehard fans mostly know her from her Broadway career in shows like Rent and Wicked. She won a Tony Award for her Wicked role as Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West. Menzel met now-husband Taye Diggs on the set of the movie version of Rent, and he makes a short appearance on this album in “Where or When,” where he reminds me of Frank Sinatra. It’s clear that this woman is meant for the stage. In concert, she likes to perform, as the CD title suggests, barefoot.

The beginning of this live album seems a little dull, but the rest is far from disappointing. There is a lot to love. Menzel tells personal stories throughout the show, including a particularly funny one on the track “You Were Good” about a lackluster experience when she briefly met Barbra Streisand. Menzel’s voice is wonderful. Our eardrums should be thanking her for such a great experience. My favorite tracks are “Love For Sale/Roxanne,” “No Day But Today,” “Poker Face,” and “Heaven Help My Heart.”
Kady Z
One Million Pieces EP
(Fraknwitch Records)
I have nothing but good things to say about Kady Z. I didn’t know anything about her before listening to this five-song EP, and now I want to know everything. The goal of an EP is to show the capabilities and talents of an artist in as few songs as possible, and this EP succeeds. It features great dance songs riddled with fresh, catchy beats, but also shows that she can really pull off slower pop songs. It’s hard to do both successfully. I was surprised by the song “Feel” because it’s thoughtful and doesn’t shy away from real emotion.

This EP’s songs are well-written and produced, with a full sound. The songs seem complete — it doesn’t feel like they lack anything in particular. I can easily imagine them sounding good if remixed, as well. This EP is so great that even my least favorite song, “Fun,” is still a good one. After hearing this taste of what Kady Z has, I cannot wait to hear more. My favorites: “One Million Pieces” and “Beautiful Disaster.”
Jessie and the Toy Boys
Let’s Get Naughty Remixes
(Prospect Park)
Jessie and the Toy Boys is catchy dance music. The song “Let’s Get Naughty” is good enough on its own, but it now comes with a slew of remixes, too. It is one of the most danceable songs I’ve heard in a long time. Jessie’s voice reminds me of a young Britney Spears with a potty mouth. I love it. The single sounds familiar. I think I might have already heard it at the gay club, but I didn’t know who it was. Now I know, and I won’t forget. The Jump Smokers Club Mix is amazing. It’s hard to stay sitting down to this one. If you do anything today, find this song and listen to it. I’ve been feeling naughty ever since hearing it. Other notable remixes are the Ron Reeser Club Mix and the Yiannis Disobedient Dub Mix. The full-length album is to be released this summer.

Rye Rye
Boom Boom:
The Remixes
The first time I listened to this song, I thought I had finally found something I hated more than Justin Bieber. Then, predictably, it was stuck in my head for the entire night. I kept singing it. The song samples “Boom Boom Boom Boom” from the Vengaboys’ late-’90s hit, so it’s easy to see why I disliked it. However, when I listened to it again, I didn’t despise it as much. There are far worst things in music out there. Truth be told, it’s kind of fun and danceable. Rye Rye is clear and articulate in her rapping. It’s hard to explain, but she sounds “old school” with a quicker pace, which I enjoy. My favorite remixes of the single are the Kat Krazy Remix and the Digital Lab Remix.

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