Maroon 5, Niall Horan release new albums

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MARK BONIFACIO

Two of the biggest stars in the international music scene—Maroon 5 and ex-One Direction member Niall Horan—have come up with albums their fans are sure to enjoy.

Both acts took time in producing their albums and released two or three singles first as test if the songs work for fans thereby giving glimpses on how the whole repertoire may sound.

Maroon 5 – ‘Red Pill Blues’
The three-time Grammy Award-winning multi-platinum band finally released their highly anticipated sixth studio album, “Red Pill Blues,” in November, three years after “V” was release. They came out with two singles ahead of the album.

Executive produced by J. Kash, and featuring special guest appearances by SZA, Julia Michaels, A$AP Rocky and LunchMoney Lewis, the international version album includes both a 14-track standard edition, as well as an international deluxe version which is a two-CD set of the 14 tracks plus six tracks recorded live in Manchester, UK in 2015. The physical International deluxe includes the Access All Areas digital hub functionality which provides digital access to exclusive Maroon 5 tracks and other specially curated content.


Maroon 5 recently debuted the music video for the band’s current single, “What Lovers Do,” which features SZA. The song is the latest addition to a series of infectious singles Maroon 5 has debuted over the course of the last year. In February, the band delivered the hypnotic single “Cold” featuring Future, which amassed over 262 million Spotify streams and 112 million YouTube/Vevo views. The release of “Cold” followed the group’s massive hit single “Don’t Wanna Know,” featuring Kendrick Lamar, which hit the Top 10 in fifteen countries, over 494 million Spotify streams and nearly 347 million YouTube/Vevo views. “Cold” notably tallied the bands 12th Hot 100 top 10, making them the most successful group on the charts’ history.

Both tracks follow on the heels of Maroon 5’s Grammy-nominated six times-platinum selling single “Sugar”—which has amassed a record setting more than 2 billion YouTube/Vevo views and counting. The track is featured on Maroon 5’s acclaimed album, V, which debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Top 200 and included additional smash singles “Maps” and “Animals.” All three singles hit #1 on the Top 40 chart.

Other standouts: “Lips On You,” “Help Me Out” (with Julia Michaels), “Whiskey” (feat. A$AP Rocky), “Girls Like You,” “Denim Jacket” and “Visions.”

If there are three words to describe it, that would be fresh (in terms of production), groovy and excellent. The first single, “Don’t Wanna Know,” gave a clue on what this album sounds.

Music Geek wouldn’t be surprised if the next Maroon 5 album will be greater and better than this one.

Niall Horan – ‘Flicker’ (Deluxe Edition)
After releasing his debut single “This Town” in September last year, followed by “Slow Hands” in May this year and “Too Much To Ask” just three months ago, Niall Horan is the third ex-One Direction member—after Zayn and Harry Styles—to come out with a full debut album.

Former One Direction member Niall Horan

Titled “Flicker,” the album debuted at #1 at Billboard 200 in the US. The Irish singer/songwriter worked with producers Julian Bunetta (One Direction, Maroon 5), Greg Kurstin (Adele, Sia), Jacquire King (King of Leon, One Direction), AFTERHRS, Mark “Spike” Stent (Madonna, U2) and TMS (G-Eazy, Little Mix). He also collaborated with rising country singer Maren Morris for the track “Seeing Blind.”

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Horan stated that his album was inspired by classic rock acts including Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles. He also described Flicker as having a “folk-with-pop feel to it.”

The Standard Edition of “Flicker” has 10 tracks while its Deluxe Edition includes three more: “On My Own,” “Mirrors” and “The Tide.”

Obvious reason to download or buy is if one is a One Direction fan. But if not, this “folk-pop” album is still worth listening. Evident is the clear influence of Fleetwood Mac like “On The Loose,” “You and Me” and “Since We Are Alone.”

The album is more of a “folksy,” subdued and tend to go acoustic with slower songs save for the opening track “On The Loose” with its pop-rock sound and the unapologetically pop Slow Hands. Horan even dabbled in country in his duet with Morris. Despite the seeming retro sound, he and his producers were still able to kept it sounding so contemporary.

Soothing to the ears is the warmth from his soft singing voice that resonates throughout the songs and melodies. The theme is still about love and heartbreak especially for his age which listeners across generations find them relatable.

So, if Zayn took the R&B path, Harry Styles came out with an alternative rock album, Louis Tomlinson is pop/ dance and Liam Payne is purely pop, then Horan has already found his genre as an artist via Flicker. It definitely is not a One Direction album but his very own.

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PERSONAL: Happy birthday to my beloved sister who has been with me through thick and thin-Marian AileenBonifacio! Wishing you good health, wealth and many happy returns!

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