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Kaleidoscope Dream

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Kaleidoscope Dream
Miguel-Kaleidoscope Dream.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedSeptember 25, 2012 (2012-09-25)
StudioPlatinum Sound Recording Studios in New York City; MJP Studios and Gustavo's Golden Gloves Gymnasium in Los Angeles
Genre
Length42:11
LabelRCA
Producer
Miguel chronology
All I Want Is You
(2010)
Kaleidoscope Dream
(2012)
Wildheart
(2015)
Singles from Kaleidoscope Dream
  1. "Adorn"
    Released: August 7, 2012
  2. "Do You..."
    Released: September 18, 2012
  3. "How Many Drinks?"
    Released: March 3, 2013

Kaleidoscope Dream is the second studio album by American R&B singer and songwriter Miguel. It was released on September 25, 2012, by RCA Records.

After the commercial breakthrough of his debut album All I Want Is You (2010), Miguel wanted to play a larger creative role in his music, leading him to principally produce and write Kaleidoscope Dream. He recorded most of the album at Platinum Sound Recording Studios in New York City and MJP Studios in Los Angeles, working with producers Oak Felder, Jerry "Wonda" Duplessis, and Salaam Remi, among others.

The album's music draws on R&B, pop, funk, rock and soul styles, as well as elements from electronic and psychedelic music. The producers incorporated dense bass lines, buzzing synthesizers, and hazy, reverbed sounds in the songs, which deal mostly with sex, romance, and existential ideas. Miguel titled Kaleidoscope Dream as a metaphor for life and wanted the songs to reflect his lifestyle and personality.

Before Kaleidoscope Dream was released, Miguel previewed its songs virally through a series of free EPs. It was also promoted with three singles, including his biggest hit to date "Adorn", and his touring in North America and Europe during 2012 to 2013. The album debuted at number three on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 71,000 copies, and by June 2015, it had sold 535,000 copies.[1] Kaleidoscope Dream received widespread acclaim from critics, who praised its eccentric style and Miguel's singing and songwriting.

Background[edit]

After it was shelved by Jive Records for two years, Miguel released his debut album All I Want Is You in November 2010.[2] It sold poorly at first and was underpromoted by Jive,[2] amid the label's dissolution.[3] However, as its singles attained radio airplay and Miguel toured in its promotion,[4] the album became a sleeper hit and helped him garner an audience and commercial standing.[2][5] He also garnered a following with his fervent concert performances.[6] After Jive was shut down and absorbed by RCA Records, Miguel acquired a new marketing team to develop himself as more than a typical urban artist,[4] having felt pigeonholed into being marketed as one by Jive.[7] He said that the experience of balancing creativity and business sense on his first album made him more confident in his approach on Kaleidoscope Dream.[8]

Miguel sought to reintroduce himself artistically with the album.[4] Inspired by his more alternative musical influences,[9] he wanted to change the sound and expectations of R&B songs on urban radio.[4] He explained the album's title as "a metaphor for our life; everyone has their own Kaleidoscope Dream, it is the life that they project and it is the life that they are solidifying with their conscious decision and their subconscious feelings."[10] Miguel also said that the album represents the fantasies that are conveyed through dreams, which he felt embody "the purest form of fantasy we unleash through our subconscious ... the truest freedom we can experience. Totally unrepressed and totally creative."[11]

Writing and recording[edit]

Alicia Keys (pictured in 2008) co-wrote and sang on "Where's the Fun in Forever".

Miguel worked on the album for approximately three months.[12] He sought to play a larger creative role than he had on All I Want Is You,[10] with more involvement in the production and songwriting, writing or co-writing every song on the album.[13] The album was recorded at Platinum Sound Recording Studios in New York City and MJP Studios in Los Angeles; the songs "Arch & Point" and "Gravity" were recorded at Gustavo's Golden Gloves Gymnasium in Los Angeles.[14] Miguel spent almost two years in New York City, which he felt let him explore "the edgy side" of his life and consequently made his sonical approach grittier, saying in an interview for The Village Voice: "I'm not the 'go to the club and pop bottles' kind of guy. That's not my lifestyle. I really like to party, but it's ... just darker. I'm looking for the speakeasy on the Lower East Side that has a secret door and a password."[15] Miguel recorded "Adorn" in 2011 in the bedroom of his Los Angeles apartment, which he used as a makeshift studio at the time.[7] Parts of the album were edited by Miguel and his engineers using Pro Tools.[14]

Miguel wanted the album to be "a pure and honest projection of my lifestyle and my kaleidoscope dream", and used the music's pace and sound to represent his lifestyle and the lyrics to represent his personality.[16] To sustain his creative approach, Miguel avoided media outlets that he usually visited for music, including radio and Internet blogs. He drew on musical influences from early in his life, including classic rock, country rock and funk.[16] An orchestra was enlisted and string arrangements incorporated in the music, along with a drum loop, to the album's title track, which he felt aurally defined the moods of his personality.[17] Miguel also worked with previous collaborators Salaam Remi and Happy Perez, among other producers.[13] Singer-songwriter Alicia Keys co-wrote and sang background vocals on the song "Where's the Fun in Forever"; singer-songwriter Elle Varner co-wrote "Use Me";[14] and Brook D'Leau of J*Davey played keyboards on "Candles in the Sun".[13]

Apart from sexual themes, Miguel wrote about conversational and existential topics.[16] When writing "Pussy Is Mine", he drew on his sexual behavior as a single man and "moments of power and vulnerability" with a sexually promiscuous woman.[17] Miguel originally co-wrote "Where's the Fun in Forever" with Alicia Keys in Jamaica, a collaboration for her project.[18][17] Miguel deemed the notion of the song "such a personal thought and perspective", and felt very attached to it when the song was completed. Keys ultimately did not use the collaboration for her project, which Miguel was happy about, explaining to SoulCulture that "[Keys] was gracious enough to let us keep it and it’s one of my favourite songs on the album".[18] Recording for the album began while Miguel was working on All I Want Is You. He wrote the album's title track in reaction to Jive's request for more conventional urban songs, with unusual lyrics that lacked a hook, chorus, or form.[7]

Music and lyrics[edit]

According to The Independent's Holly Rubenstein, Kaleidoscope Dream is "widely considered a leading example" of alternative R&B; Miguel himself described it as "avant soul".[19] In the opinion of NPR's Frannie Kelley, the record combined R&B, pop, funk, rock and soul genres.[20] Its music features sparse production,[21] eccentric details,[22] thick bass lines,[7] buzzing synthesizers,[6] and hazy, reverbed sounds.[23] Allmusic's Andy Kellman found the album "funkier and weirder" than All I Want Is You and observed an "illusory atmosphere ... intensified by some unexpected touches".[13] Maura Johnston said much of it "sounds, as the title might suggest, fractal."[23] As an R&B album, The A.V. Club's Evan Rytlewski said, Kaleidoscope Dream deviated from genre conventions by minimizing the influence of hip hop;[2] Jim DeRogatis believed it notably draws "on elements of great psychedelic rock and pop to color [the album's] soul and R&B".[24] Austin Trunick of Under the Radar compared the album's "often-hypersexual subject matter" and "unusual production" to Prince.[25] Alex Macpherson of The Guardian perceived a "headier aesthetic" than on All I Want Is You, with "faded psychedelia" and "intimate experiments in Purple Rain-esque rock".[26] Writing about the record for WNYC, Gretta Cohn claimed Miguel was "redefining what contemporary R&B can be".[27] Mark Edward Nero of About.com considered the album "eclectic, artsy R&B-pop".[28] Miguel said he "definitely think[s] it's an R&B record, though other people may not ... [Listeners] are so conditioned to expect certain things out of current R&B, and it's about following a formula. But R&B was once live music, it was psychedelic, it was rock, it was funk, and all these genres stem from soul music ... There would be no hip-hop or rock without R&B. It was important for me to be true to what R&B is, and that is soulful."[8]

The album's lyrics generally deal with themes of adult love, meaningful sex,[7] and romance.[2] Andrew Ryce from Pitchfork interprets its "overarching theme" to be "the highly sexualized seen through the lens of the eager and innocent."[29] Miguel's lyrics express modesty,[29] yearning, vulnerability,[7] and cheeky humor.[20] Kelley likens his songwriting to Tony! Toni! Toné! and observes "Little Richard-level insinuations" and "absurd provocations in the style of Akinyele".[20] Music journalist Jim DeRogatis views that Miguel eschews braggadocio and is "man enough to admit his own insecurities and question whether he's worthy of love—or lustful indulgence."[24] Kaleidoscope Dream also explores the anxiety and momentary nature of sex and clubbing.[30] Consequence of Sound's Jeremy D. Larson views that Miguel employs a "fangs-out approach to R&B" similar to Frank Ocean and The Weeknd, writing that "nothing shrouds Miguel and his directives, and worries, and prayers, and cat calls – it's all there, full of light and love, refracting through a kaleidoscope of rocks glasses, rainy windshields, and blood-shot eyes."[21] NPR's Frannie Kelley said the album is "made up of love songs, but they are more specifically songs arguing for love, acting casual, wishing and hoping and then imagining what it would be like to consummate ... It's soul-baring, but mirrored and fairly guarded."[20]

"Adorn" has both digital and analog sensibilities,[13] with lyrics featuring brazen declarations of affection,[13] and promises of adoration to a female subject.[33] "Don't Look Back" features amplified bass,[3] bombastic drums,[23] and metallic synths.[30] Rob Markman of MTV News writes that the song "represents the morning after when the reality of the previous night's efforts creep in."[34] Its closing interlude has Miguel crooning lyrics from The Zombies' 1969 song "Time of the Season" over sentimental synths and musky,[13] psychedelic music.[29] "Use Me" features hollow, electronic sounds,[33] heavily multitracked vocals, metronomic rhythms,[35] and an industrialized mix of guitar and percussion.[3] Its lyrics blur expressions of sexual nerves with gentle dominance,[7] as the narrator instructs his lover how she can toy with him.[23] An atmospheric pop rock song,[36] "Do You..." portrays a narcotic tryst and mixes ambiable come-ons with drug imagery.[23][26] The psychedelic title track incorporates synthesizer arpeggios, minor chords,[36] oscillating blips, fuzzy guitar,[37] and a bassline interpolation of Labi Siffre's 1975 "I Got The".[13] The sample's groove is played at a different tempo than other instruments on the song.[2] The song's lyrics feature synesthetic imagery ("I taste you, infinite colors"),[36] and a boast by the narrator about kissing his subject's third eye.[37]

"The Thrill" has a sparse bass groove, layered keyboards,[22] and existential lyrics with YOLO imagery.[23] "How Many Drinks?" has sardonic,[29] swaggering lyrics and a rap verse by Miguel,[23] who veers between seducer and user.[22] "Where's the Fun in Forever" features atmospheric drums and bass,[13] an a cappella bridge,[38] and rolling dynamics with measures that advance an argument.[39] The song celebrates youthful bliss and preaches a carpe diem philosophy.[38][26] It transitions into the rock song "Arch & Point",[36] which has sexually charged ballet metaphors and bare power pop elements.[13][38] "Pussy Is Mine" features a high vocal range by Miguel, a rudimentary chord progression played on electric guitar,[35] and a stripped, demo quality.[36] The song is about sexual jealousy and an ignoble man's plea for exclusivity in a casual relationship.[30] Its sexually explicit, bawdy lyrics eschew masculine hip hop tropes for feelings of insecurity.[22] The song is bookended by background studio chatter.[40] "Candles in the Sun" is a slow burning,[36] political soul song.[41] It touches on senseless killings, drug-infested communities,[42] and questions the existence of God and the motives of governments.[43] Chris Kelly of Fact writes that, along with "Adorn", "Candles in the Sun" "bookend[s] the album with another tribute to Marvin Gaye, a la 'What's Going On?'"[36]

Release and promotion[edit]

Miguel performing in 2013

After pitching the strategy to RCA,[8] Miguel first marketed Kaleidoscope Dream virally with a three-volume series of EPs entitled Art Dealer Chic,[44] which were released as free downloads during February to April 2012 and previewed songs from the album.[13] He released two more EPs—Kaleidoscope Dream: Water Preview on July 31 and Air Preview on September 11—[45] to digital retailers.[4] In an interview for The Village Voice, Miguel said that the strategy allowed listeners to absorb the songs at his desired pace and called it "a great way for me to reconnect with my peers ... the people that I hang out with—that go to the same shows, listen to the same music, read the same blogs, same magazines."[44]

Kaleidoscope Dream was first released in vinyl LP format on September 25, in an effort by RCA to make the deadline for the Grammy Awards' eligibility period without charting prematurely on lower sales.[46] The following week, it debuted at number three on the Billboard 200, selling 71,000 copies in the US.[47] It was Miguel's first album to be released in the United Kingdom,[48] where it spent 15 weeks on the country's R&B chart,[49] peaking at number 13.[50] By February 20, 2013, the record had charted for 20 weeks on the Billboard 200 and sold 321,400 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.[51] The album was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in June 2015,[52] with 535,000 copies sold in the US at that point.[1]

"Adorn" was released as Kaleidoscope Dream's lead single on August 7,[53] becoming a sleeper hit on urban radio.[6] It was Miguel's second number-one single on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs,[13] and his highest charting single on the Billboard Hot 100 at number 17.[54] By September, the single had sold 190,000 copies.[4] According to NPR's Audie Cornish, Miguel "broke through to a national audience in 2012" with both "Adorn" and Kaleidoscope Dream.[55] The second single "Do You..." was released on September 18,[56] and reached number 32 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.[57] The album's third and final single, "How Many Drinks?", was released on March 3, 2013.[58]

In support of Kaleidoscope Dream, Miguel embarked on a short promotional tour in the United States on September 26, 2012.[4] He also promoted the record with television performances on 106 & Park, The Wendy Williams Show, Late Show with David Letterman, and Jimmy Kimmel Live!.[59] He subsequently toured in support of the album for six months throughout North America and Europe,[4] including concert dates as a supporting act on Trey Songz' Chapter V World Tour during November 2012 to February 2013,[60] and a headlining tour in the UK and Ireland during January 2013.[48] Miguel opened for Alicia Keys on her Set The World On Fire Tour during March and April.[61] Although he did not choreograph his shows, he routinely rehearsed in a dance studio and practiced singing in front of a mirror. In concert, he performed dramatic leaps, staggers, and other moves fashioned after Little Richard and James Brown.[7] He started ripping his shirt off during performances after being inspired by Songz' concerts.[58]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
AnyDecentMusic?8.0/10[62]
Metacritic86/100[63]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic5/5 stars[13]
Chicago Tribune3.5/4 stars[22]
The Guardian4/5 stars[26]
The Irish Times4/5 stars[64]
MSN MusicA−[65]
Pitchfork8.4/10[29]
Q4/5 stars[66]
Rolling Stone3.5/5 stars[33]
Spin9/10[23]
USA Today3/4 stars[67]

Kaleidoscope Dream was met with widespread critical acclaim.[68] At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 86, based on 20 reviews.[63]

Reviewing the album for AllMusic, Kellman hailed it as "2012's most pleasurable pop-R&B album".[13] In the Chicago Tribune, Greg Kot said Miguel "creates a fluid, dreamscape environment that floats across eras with a connoisseur's discerning feel for the telling detail."[22] Macpherson wrote in The Guardian of Miguel's occasional "appeal to indie tropes" balanced by "genuinely thoughtful songwriting", while admiring his use of a commercial breakthrough "as a springboard to radically change course".[26] Sean McCarthy from PopMatters wrote that, along with Frank Ocean's Channel Orange, it showed R&B as the innovative genre in mainstream music during 2012,[3] while Los Angeles Times critic Randall Roberts said it "offers further evidence of a genre being reborn in 2012."[39] Pitchfork's Andrew Ryce hailed Miguel as "the rare vocalist who makes you feel what he's singing about, even when his lyrics can be transparent."[29] Alfred Soto of The Quietus was appreciated Miguel's ability to "articulate how a love man can be louche without being a douche."[35] Ken Capobianco from The Boston Globe was more critical, finding some of the songs overworked and Miguel "too remote for a true soul singer".[69] New York Times critic Jon Caramanica said Kaleidoscope Dream sounds inconsistent and "a little washed-out, a blend of Prince-isms and slurry grooves",[41] while Kellman complained of the lyrics occasionally veering "too close to 'artsy' teenage erotic poetry".[13]

At the end of 2012, Kaleidoscope Dream appeared on several critics' lists of the year's best records.[70] Ann Powers named it the best album of 2012.[71] It was also ranked number 26 by Robert Christgau,[72] number eleven by The Guardian,[73] number 10 by the Chicago Tribune, number eight by Slate, number six by the Los Angeles Times, number five by AllMusic, Okayplayer, and Spin, number four by Entertainment Weekly, number three by Billboard, New York, and Now, and number one by Idolator.[70] Metacritic named it the 12th best-reviewed album of 2012.[74] The album was voted the fifth best album of 2012 in the Pazz & Jop, an annual poll of American critics nationwide, published by The Village Voice.[75] Kaleidoscope Dream was nominated for the 2013 Grammy Award for Best Urban Contemporary Album, while "Adorn" was nominated for Best R&B Performance and Song of the Year, winning in the Best R&B Song category.[76] In 2014, Pitchfork ranked the album at number 59 in their list of "The 100 Best Albums of the Decade So Far (2010-2014)".[77]

Track listing[edit]

No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."Adorn"Miguel PimentelMiguel3:13
2."Don't Look Back"
  • Pimentel
  • Nathan Perez
  • Happy Perez
  • Miguel
4:26
3."Use Me"
  • Pop Wansel
  • Oak Felder
  • Mostyn[a]
  • Miguel[a]
4:40
4."Do You..."
  • Jerry "Wonda" Duplessis
  • Arden "Keyz" Altino[a]
  • Miguel[a]
3:28
5."Kaleidoscope Dream"
4:17
6."The Thrill"
  • Pimentel
  • Allen Arthur
  • Clayton Reilly
  • Keith Justice
  • Miguel
  • Phatboiz
3:04
7."How Many Drinks?"Remi4:32
8."Where's the Fun in Forever"
  • Pop Wansel
  • Oak Felder
  • Mostyn[a]
3:29
9."Arch & Point"
  • Pimentel
  • Mac Robinson
  • Brian Warfield
Fisticuffs3:17
10."Pussy Is Mine"PimentelMiguel2:53
11."Candles in the Sun"PimentelMiguel4:55
Total length:42:11
Notes[14]

Personnel[edit]

Credits were adapted from the album's liner notes.[14]

Charts[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (2012) Peak
position
American Albums Chart[82] 3
American R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart[83] 1
British R&B Albums Chart[50] 13
Chart (2013) Peak
position
Danish Albums Chart[84] 26
Australian Albums (ARIA)[85] 45

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (2012) Position
American Albums Chart[86] 161
American R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart[86] 38
Chart (2013) Position
American Albums Chart[87] 89
American R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart[87] 20

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United States (RIAA)[88] Platinum 1,000,000double-dagger

double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Region Date Label Format
United States[89] September 25, 2012 RCA Records LP
United Kingdom[90] October 1, 2012 ByStorm Entertainment, RCA Digital download
Canada October 2, 2012 Digital download,[91] CD[92]
United States Digital download,[93] CD[94]
United Kingdom[95] November 12, 2012 Sony Music Entertainment CD
Australia[96] November 16, 2012
Denmark[97] December 17, 2012
Germany[98] May 31, 2013 Digital download, CD
Austria[99] May 31, 2013 Digital download, CD
Switzerland[100] May 31, 2013 Digital download, CD

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]