Album review: Jennifer Hudson - Jennifer Hudson

Album review: Jennifer Hudson's debutJennifer Hudson's had quite a bit of a career rollercoaster. Debuting on American idol with a poodle weave, getting voted off, then years later getting a lead role in Dreamgirls and upstaging Beyoncé, then becoming chummy with Clive Davis and snagging a record deal with him, getting a role in Sex and the city. It feels like she's been in the game for ages and all before she's even released an album! With September 2008 upon us, Jennifer is finally dropping her debut and making a name for herself as a recording artist.

Jennifer's album tows the line nicely between R&B and radio accessible pop. This is best showcased with the albums' first track and Jennifer's debut single "Spotlight", which was an understated gem of a song. It works so well because Ne-Yo and Stargate seem to get what Jennifer should be about. Something which is proved with their second contribution to the album "Can't stop the rain" which is another cracker of a song. It utilizes the EXACT same drum pattern as Beyoncé's hit "Irreplaceable"; but I'll forgive Stargate for it, given the song is so good. Madd Scientist also works the same pop angle with "If this isn't love", which has to be my favourite track on the album. I had no idea Madd Scientist had it in him to produce a song like this. It's a great track and would make a great single. As much as I love this song and as great as Jennifer sounds on it, I couldn't help but think Leona's voice would've been better suited to it and that Brandy would've KILLED it. I know she would've shut shit down with the vocals on the chorus. But credit where it's due: Jennifer sounds nice on the song and it's without a doubt an album highlight. "You pulled me through" is a nice effort. It has a similar style to "I this isn't love", but it's not as catchy or as easy to latch onto. It's a nice song, but a forgettable one. The Underdogs contribution "Invisible" is another hot song. It's a shame this wasn't the final track on the album, because it would've acted as a nice closer. The Underdogs produced the whole of the Dreamgirls soundtrack, so it's great hearing them take complete free reign on Jennifer with an original song.

The album does teeter into R&B territory, but these songs lack the charm of the more pop orientated songs. The Timbaland and Jim Beanz produced "Pocket book" is boring. The song does nothing for me. Ludacris is the only redeeming part of this whole song. I thought Timbaland would've come better, but given his recent work, I honestly don't know what I was expecting. The n***a has fallen off big time since his work on Nelly Furtado's Loose. Robin Thicke lends his songwriting and production talents to "Giving myself" which sounds like some over sung Dreamgirls bullshit. Skip! "What's wrong (Go away)" is horrible and feels out of place and a little too hood for Jennifer's album. The beat knocks like "Bartender" and of course with T-Pain being behind it, it features him and his auto tuned vocals all over the song which ruins it completely. His vocals just aren't necessary and feel tacked on and distracting. It's like listening to 4 minutes of a tin foiled wrapped aluminium can in a microwave. The chronic auto tuning over powers the whole entire song and Jennifer has to constantly belt to be heard over it. T-Pain was also wrong for auto tuning Jennifer at the start of the song. That shit sounded terrible. This song should've been given to Fantasia. It would've suited her better. "My heart" is boring. The clock ticking snare is jarring and the song just never seems to take off. "I'm his only woman" is annoying. We should've known Jennifer and Fanatsia would go toe to toe on a song at some point. The whole thing is just a screaming contest. I hate it and shudder in pain every time I hear it. I can't even sit through the entire song without wishing I was deaf. "We gon' fight" is nice though. It's a shame the man behind the song Tank didn't join Jennifer on vocal duties though. A vocal sparring between these 2 would've been cool to have heard. Those who know about Tank know that the dude can sing his arse off. The R&B songs don't seem to work as well, because on each occasion you just think to yourself that there's another artist in the game could've done the songs better. Plus it doesn't help the songs aren't all that good to begin with.

The final few songs are all terrible. "And I'm telling you, I'm not going" was and still is annoying and shouldn't have been placed on the album, even as a bonus track. The whole idea of this album is to separate Jennifer from Dreamgirls. I can understand why this was placed on the album, but it shouldn't have been. It's not like the original material on the album is so bad that it can't stand without it. "Jesus promised me a home over there" is just dribble. I don't have anything against gospel, but this song felt unnecessary. The only thing folk will do with this track is cringe and skip it. "All dressed in love" is garbage. Enough said. 3 tracks which should not have been included. I'm sure there are 3 unreleased Jennifer Hudson tracks knocking on Clive Davis' desktop which could have replaced these.

Jennifer's debut is pretty solid, but it lacks impact and there's nothing about that really stands out. It reminds me alot of Leona Lewis' debut in the respect that few risks were taken, a brilliant voice was surrounded by productions of not all that amazing quality and that too many producers were brought into the mix. It would've been better to have had those who managed to give Jennifer a hot sound contribute more tracks. Ne-Yo's songwriting on "Spotlight" and "Can't stop the rain" is brilliant and Stargate deliver a musical backdrop which suits both Jennifer's vocals and Ne-Yo's lyrics to a tee. Madd Scientist did a great job with giving Jennifer that big, anthemic, beautiful and memorable cross over song and The underdogs did the same.

Jennifer Hudson's self titled debut isn't anything special. I'm honestly not sure if I'd even buy it. But it does have some solid songs and is as good of a debut as I expected. As odd as it will sound, I'm already looking forward to Jennifer's second album. No doubt she'll be more confident in her status as a music star and her A&R executive will have more of an idea of what works for Jennifer musically. Her debut is a solid stepping stone for her recording career and this is no bad feat for somebody who got voted off of American idol 4 years ago.

Album highlights:
■ Spotlight
■ If this isn't love J's fave
■ Can't stop the rain
■ Invisible


  1. How is "What's Wrong (Go Away)" an album highlight with all the mad shit you talked about it?!? LOL!

    But I agree with everything you said about that song regarding T-Pain, but I can still listen to it because of how good Jennifer sounds on it.

    I LOVE "If This Isn't Love", "Invisible", "We Gon' Fight", and "Can't Stop The Rain".

    Other songs like "You Pulled me Through", "My Heart", and "Giving Myself" are good songs, but not up to par with the ones previously mentioned.

    And "All Dressed Up In Love" is on the album?! I didn't see it on the version I listened to. I hope it's not!

    You know what's funny, I thought to myself after I did my review that you would give it a 6. I know you too well my friend!


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