In a promise to get things back to normal around here, we’re bringing the heat with our used-to-be-somewhat-regular Tuesday Feature, One Track Mind, where I pick one song on iTunes every Tuesday and review it for your potential listening or money saving pleasure.

This morning when I opened iTunes in search of a new release to check out, it was a toss up between a song from The Rocket Summer’s new album (which so far sounds like a super catchy, super fun, summer album that rockets my sockets to Jupiter.) or Vanessa Carlton’s new single. Being that Vanessa Carlton has been non-existent for the past… who knows how long… I decided that I’d give it a spin.

Here’s some background:

We all recognize Carlton’s name, piano melodies, and incredibly full voice from her 2002 release Be Not Nobody, with the single that I never seemed to get out of earshot from, “A Thousand Miles.” Released within a year of Michelle Branch’s butt-kicking album, The Spirit Room, Vanessa Carlton spent most of her hype and 15 minutes on my backburner.  However, I always really did enjoy the first track from the album, “Ordinary Day.” An upbeat, catchy and driving number with excellent lyrics to carry it along. Zammo! I could listen to it on repeat for days and still think it’s a great song, top to bottom. But then what happened to Little Miss Carlton?

In 2004, Carlton released her sophomore album, Harmonium, which not only completely slipped under my radar, but that of millions of Americans as the album only sold 179,000 copies, causing her to part ways with her label, A&M. Since then, label-less and pretty much out of at least my conscious thought, looks like she’s been on-again, off-again dating Semi-Charmed Stephan Jenkins of Third Eye Blind, who also co-produced her next record, Heroes and Thieves, slated to be released early October on The Inc. Records (formerly known as Murder, Inc., a primarily hip-hop label, that boasts such artists as, JaRule and Ashanti. That’s not totally bad. After all, in 2005, Fiona Apple teamed up with well-known hip-hop producer Mike Elizondo, to create one of the greatest albums ever recorded by anyone in the history of music. Ever.).

Which brings us up to today, July 17, 2007, when we see the release of the first single from this album, “Nolita Fairytale”.

The song starts out with the promise of something different, an energized drum beat that gets joined by Carlton’s signature punchy chord progressions and her voice that sounds exactly like it did in 2002.  Starting low, the track gives promise that it has nowhere to go but up, up, up. But it never quite makes it to any sort of climax or peak. In fact, the song remains completely flat, unexciting, and something you’re likely to find in the closing credits of a Hillary Duff film, instead of your car stereo.  This is “sell-out” pop music at its absolute best today. An artist, producers and label that are looking to cash in on the unoriginal, uninspired and uninteresting garbage that gets eaten up by the masses.  She’s being produced by people who don’t understand the genre as much as they understand business, and that’s exactly what I see to be completely wrong with the music industry today. Vanessa did not grow up with her audience. Through this single, she has shown us that she’s remained the same and is living in the “Fairytale” that if she writes a boring and formulaic pop song, she’ll make it big once again.

Upon first listen, you can see that it’s just a tragically misproduced and mismarketed song. Without really paying attention, you could hear potential peeking through, if only Carlton got her own taste of Elizondo on her side. But when really listening to the music, this song whines and complains like an angsty and unintelligent hate-letter to A&M for a grueling three minutes and twenty-eight seconds (“So take away my record deal, the one I don’t need.” Right.).  To me, she’s proven to be an immature and loose cannon of a song writer, relying on the same old tricks, same old combinations to try and rekindle at least 30 seconds of her long gone 15 minutes. At 27, Vanessa Carlton has officially re-defined “has-been.” 

As my friend John so brilliantly put it, “I’m surprised that Third Eye Blind guy still gives her permission to sing.” I couldn’t agree more.

Final verdict: Pass. Pick up a track from The Rocket Summer’s ultra-super-mega fun release, Do You Feel.

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