iTunes $12.99 | Streaming LIVE X LIVE (Album of the Week 7/23/21) | 20 Tracks [73:17]
We often see that fresh and unique creates a formula for success. It happened with Sam Smith, Megan Thee Stallion, and Billie Eilish. They hit the scene and people went nuts. Grammy awards piled up. And they exploded all over the place. Now we have Toni Watson, aka ‘Tones and I’, and now she’s exploding everywhere too.
And she’s earned it! Dance Monkey was so popular, it went #1 in 30 countries, broke many long-standing records held by the likes of Bing Crosby, Whitney Houston, and Ed Sheeran, and was streamed billions of times. Even the video, which is terrible btw, has streamed over 1.5 billion times.
Where did this craziness come from? Australia of course! For some reason we’ve seen some amazing new stuff coming from Down Under (See Masked Wolf, likely another huge breakout soon).
Tones and I could have been a One Hit Wonder except for the fact that she has a deep well of talent for writing and singing, and a small but effective team. For the deluxe edition of ‘Madhouse’, the 6 tracks from her original EP, The Kids are Coming, were tacked onto the end of the new music. This makes Madhouse Deluxe a huge value because Dance Monkey and the title track of the EP are included. The Kids are Coming is a typical youth song, targeted at the previous generations. It’s been done but this time it’s a little ominous with the references to protests and how “the kids are comin’ for you”.
And now the new stuff!
The title track, Welcome to the Madhouse, is an instant addiction. It’s a bit of dark pop and Toni uses her unique voice to set the scene. It’s immediately eerie and sinister while being super catchy and fun. But there’s a serious message here. My interpretation is the first day of high school, but it could also be tied into government involvement somehow. I don’t know. I just love it. “But we’ll all love you, hate you and we’ll tell you everyday.” Brilliant! “And smile their all watching…” It’s seriously suspenseful and you’re on the edge of your seat hearing this, and then she starts the chorus. Go listen and tell me if you don’t agree.
Won’t Sleep is another great sound, and another typical sort of youth song. “But don’t go tell your mamma ‘cause she won’t sleep”. Presumably you’re not supposed to tell mom about all the crazy things you do. It’s hard to tell whether this is more about excessive alcohol consumption and hangovers or drugs, but certainly we’ve all experienced that promise we make ourselves the next morning to never do it again. But we still do!
I have no idea what Westside Lobby is or where it’s at. It’s obvious she’s been judged harshly and I doubt the music industry was kind at all (not a surprise) until after Dance Monkey was a huge hit. It’s about going where she can be herself and it has the best lyric on the album.
And I’m so over people saying I don’t look right
There’s no place for you in music’s all I hear
But my song went number one in over 30 fucking countries
And I’m sorry if that offends you, my dear
I love the swagger of this verse. After she’s been told she doesn’t fit in she throws it back in their face. Dance Monkey gave her the power to tell those who dismissed her to basically fuck off. The sarcasm of her apology is powerful, and she’s not apologizing at all.
Fly Away was released ahead of the full album release and showed great promise that Dance Monkey wasn’t going to be the only thing she ever did worth noticing. It also demonstrated she had a musical side that wasn’t just super pop. Fly Away opens with a gospel sound and then stays subtle, but with a soaring chorus. Yeah, that’s a pun. Sorry. But it fits. The song just takes off. Oops, I did it again (stole that from Brittney).
There are times when the songs are pretty. Sometimes others are more sinister and have an edge, like the title track. Some are good in the background while you work, and all are easy to listen to. I like that I have to think about where these lyrics come from and what they mean. All 20 of the songs are good and worth listening to. Some of the songs, like those I wrote of, are great! And a few are incredibly brilliant and will grab your attention away from whatever you’re doing because they command attention.
The SCORE on this Album is 8 out of 10. I saw that only 41% of Google users ‘Liked’ this album. I don’t get it honestly. There’s something for everyone on this album. It’s explicit without keeping it in your face. Production and engineering on the album are smooth and superior, which means you can listen on anything. I bring this up because Eilish’s Bad Guy can’t be listened to on car speakers. Seriously, go try it. I recommend purchasing the whole album. You won’t be disappointed. Especially because all of her early songs are included. Follow @poorcritic on Twitter to see when new reviews are posted. You can also enter your email address at www.thepoorcritic.com and the same thing happens. Please share this with a friend or go make a comment on the blog. I’d love to talk about any of my reviews. Thank you!