Willa Ford: Willa Was Here Album Review

Willa Ford: Willa Was Here Album Review

Score: 52/100

Top 3 Tracks: Dare, Don’t You Wish, I Wanna Be Bad

I Wanna Be Bad: 8/10 — Probably one of the strongest songs on the album, and a good lead single. It sets the tone for Willa’s album, painting Willa as pop’s bad girl with its brash sexuality. She presents herself as the extreme sexuality of teen pop — blatantly putting it in your face that she wants to “misbehave” behind your girlfriend’s back, attempting to top Britney and Christina in the shock-value department. The problem with the track is that it’s set to a rather cookie-cutter pop production. Willa says she’s going to be bad, but doesn’t really go into any depth on what that entails.

Did Ya Understand That? 6/10 – The second single released off the album, and not the best choice either. The song is safe and simple and could be released on any pop singer’s album in the decade. It’s filler, mostly. Willa’s voice glides smoothly over the music and she is certainly brash and unapologetic in her break-up, but overall, it’s a weak song and a very weak second single.

Ooh Ooh: 5/10 – She breathlessly coos through this little song about wanting to hook up with a boy. It’s not a love ballad, but more of a fling ballad. With lyrics like “Gonna give you all the love I got/For a day or two, then maybe not” and “Bring love here to my back door,” she’s clearly not interested in a long-term relationship. The production of the song sounds like a cute little love ballad, but it’s clearly not. At times, it makes the track feel hollow and superficial.

Tired: 5/10 – Probably the most ironic song of the album in that Willa became exactly what she blasts here. She criticizes the pop industry and the polished and fabricated groups and artists that it turns out for profit. The critique is fair, especially in the early 2000’s, but it falls flat simply because the track — especially the instrumental —  is as manufactured pop as it gets. To be frank, Willa’s music and image don’t come more manufactured. She sings that she doesn’t like being compared to Britney, which is hard not to do when several songs on her album are co-written by Brian Kierulf and Josh Schwartz, best known for penning much of Britney’s third album, released the same year.

Joke’s on You: 7/10 – I like the little riff hook at the beginning, and Willa’s particular phrasing and her emphasis on certain words, for instance when she sings “Once there was us.” The song doesn’t have the best message — she’s suspected her boyfriend was cheating, so she cheated right back. It’s clear by now that Willa is more about revenge than taking the high road. It’s another kiss-off to another lover, but this one feels a little more satisfying.

Tender: 6/10 – The only other typical ballad on the album. This is vulnerable Willa — you can tell by the sultry talking at the beginning. However, after the last few tracks, you’re not sure that you buy this vulnerable side of her. When she sings about not wanting to have her heart broken or being taken advantage of, it’s the closest that she gets to understanding love and a normal, at least somewhat healthy relationship. Yet, the vulnerable image too feels contrived when you realize that this is the only song on the album Willa didn’t write. Basically:

Don’t You Wish: 8/10 – A bit of a guilty pleasure for me. About Willa wanting to hook up with a guy, “Don’t You Wish” is “I Wanna Be Bad” 2.0, but I think it does the bad girl thing a little better. The verses are fast-paced, the song’s a little darker, the use of auto-tune is a nice flourish and I like the “da, da, da’s” on the hook. Great song.

Prince Charming: 6/10 – Classic teen pop in the structure and production. The song falters in that it sounds the most like a Britney cast-off and the pop culture name-dropping in the middle drags it a little down. However, it’s saved by Willa’s trashier humor and take on the fairy tale cliche. Lyrics like “Rides a great white horse/Not a Greyhound bus” or “Heart made of gold/Body like a rock/Likes to serenade/Maybe even smart” add a little cheeky fun to the otherwise generic track.

Somebody Take the Pain Away: 7/10 – References “Here Comes the Rain Again” by the Eurythemics as a jumping point. I like the brooding feeling that pervades through the song and the rest of the album. The track probably won’t stick with you for very long.

Haunted Heart: 6/10 – Continues with the darker tone, but this song feels a little more silly. The magic “Craft”-like lyrics aren’t meant to be taken literally, but the metaphor feels a little wrung out by the end of the song. About Willa hoping to get a guy to obsess over her, “Haunted Heart” comes off more stalker-ish and crazy, in a way. Not sure how well the gothic feel works on Willa.

Dare: 8/10 – Probably  my fave on the album. Love the production, the beat, the “nasty, nasty, nasty” refrain, the fact that for the most part, I don’t really know what Willa’s singing about here, but I’m pretty sure it’s sex. It’s sassy and a great album closer. Leaves you wanting more.

Conclusion: Willa Ford’s debut album attempts to show the singer as the true face of pop — the realness. She tries to make herself stand out from the other pop wannabes of the era by being honest, brash and genuine in her music. For the most part, it falls utterly flat though. Most everything about Willa and her album feel contrived — from the hyper sexual pop-tart image to the production of the music that sounds like unreleased cuts from a Britney album. Willa tries to be bad, but it comes off as an act, a desperate attempt to stand out and be famous. A few of the songs on the album are decent and fun to listen to — guilty pleasures in their trashiness. But on the whole, Willa Was Here comes across as hollow and disingenuous.

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