Straight Outta Oz: Review

Last year Todrick Hall dropped a Lemonade-esque visual album, Straight Outta Oz. Now he has reworked his successful project into a deluxe edition feature.

Hall has made the rounds on the web, producing a series of viral videos, fronted his own MTV show, and most recently appeared as a judge on Rupaul’s Drag Race: All Stars 2.

Straight Outta Oz is a far cry from his usual material, while they were always of good quality, he seems to now be establishing himself as a fully-fledged artist with a plethora of creativity, a strong vision, and a relentless work ethic.

Helping him make the transition from web personality to music artist is a star-studded roundup of celebrity guests that appear in the music film: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Nicole Scherzinger, Amber Reilly, and Jordin Sparks all provided vocals to the piece while drag queens: Willam Belli, Mariah Balenciaga, Alaska, Laganja Estranja, Kim Chi, and Bob The Drag Queen also guest starred.

The 57-minute-long creation boasted 16 songs, each with its own set of visuals inspired by his favorite film The Wizard of Oz. 

On March 21st 2017, Hall released a deluxe version of the album on Youtube as well as iTunes, featuring 8 new and reworked tracks and plans to tour once again with the material.

No Place Like Home

Hall shows he is not making bubblegum pop for views anymore with this slower, and cool opening track. The lyrics are resonating, and thoughtful while his vocal range is tested with a magnetic performance that draws you into his abstract vision.

Proud

A gospel offering, Proud is a rich and uplifting cut that features a wealth of powerful vocals. Showcasing the sweet voice of Brandin Stennis it is an enjoyable track cut far too short.

Over the Rainbow

Tackling his homosexuality, and the gender roles placed upon children this is a heartfelt and hopeful number that is not often explored in music due to a lack of gay artists. The lyrics are beautiful while the production and video elevate the overall message profoundly.

Black And White

A move into pop, this fun additional track comes complete with a catchy chorus, a perfect pairing with Pentatonix, and the urging for you to sing-along. With brilliant costumes, and a killer dance routine – it’s as big and fun as a scene from High School Musical.

Color

The love ballad of the bunch featuring Jay Armstrong Johnson is a swooning back and forth between the pair. Mixing 90’s R&B, with the great romantic duets of Broadway musicals it creates a cute, heartwarming track. The video plays with the idea of being in love with adorable pops of colour.

Little People

While he has toed the line between radio, and musicals in previous songs this cut goes all out as musical number. The cheery performances, exposition heavy lyrics, and camp and colourful video it is a fun number but not a standout.

Expensive

Changing things up again with a trap beat, and a major amount of vocal fry from Hall, this track is most radio friendly for a club bop. Featuring various Drag Race alumni and Hall at his most fabulous, the video for this track is killer too!

Whoop Dat Ass

A deluxe track showcasing the raw vocals of Rents very own Tracie Thoms, this musical ditty is a two minute riff of the singers talents with a suited video to match. While it is great in its original inception, it adds little to the overall progression.

Flying Monkey Lament 1

While Raven Symoné may not be the most popular child actress on the market anymore, she shows why she was once beloved in this short clip. Her smooth tone, alongside the right amount of humour is a great small feature.

Dumb

Hall extends his talent here by reaching out into rap. He actually seems pretty legit with musing lyrics, a dope flow, and cool tone. The production is decent but nothing too innovative. The music video is among the best with great visuals, and amazing choreography.

If I Had A Heart

Slowing things down, Hall channels Chris Brown in this number, especially throughout the music video. We’re pretty sure we’ve seen each of the scenes of the video in other songs. The song is well made, memorable, and fully formed as its own creation separate to the overall album.

Lyin’ To Myself

This offering was pretty poor in comparison to the others. The lyrics were a little lacklustre, the pimp outfit was cheesy AF, and the odd facial prosthetics seemed to be used for the sake of it rather than to add any actual story. Overall unnecessary and weak. Hearing Hall’s higher register was a bonus however.

Lions And Tigers And Bears

Tamar Braxton is look good! She sounds great too but we weren’t really feeling her verse in this. Her camp 90’s overacting to the camera is brilliant though.

Amber Riley’s version of the track definitely wins out. We always love seeing her on our screens, especially when showcasing her stunning voice.

Papi

Honestly we don’t know how Hall got so many celebs to feature on this YouTube project but kudos to him. Scherzinger is definitely the strongest of the bunch with exquisite vocals, and a command of the scene when on camera. Her fierce performance is one of the high points of the project, and the song and video follow suit as an overall strong piece.

Green

A group power ballad, there is something about this track is oddly satisfying and addictive. The production is heavy and bass-filled, and the singers all work in unison for a great outcome. Though Perez Hilton sadly features, the visuals are quite odd but definitely interesting and appealing.

Flying Monkey Lament 2

Who cares what she’s even saying when Broadways Shoshana Bean vocals are this good. We aren’t sure why Hall included these laments but any reason to hear Bean perform vocal runs is worth it.

See Your Face

A short song Reilly captures the joy, fear, and heartache each so effortlessly that we get chills. Once again her voice is both powerful yet gentle, and the track is light and easy going.

Wrong Bitch

Hall loves any excuse to drag up, and we love seeing what he serves when he does. The track is everything, funny, sassy, and hard-hitting we’re here for it. Bob The Drag Queen is a fierce feature who holds his own against Hall. The deluxe version brings us even more looks, dances, and slayage.

Water Guns

Emotionally weighted, and powerful Hall makes a political statement with this track on black lives matter. The lyrics are substantial and performed with a level of intensity that will resonate deeply. The video rightfully is beautifully made and powerful. Sparks is a great feature who makes the track even better.

Home

For the finale Hall goes all out with a touching song that brings the album full circle.Halls vocals are some of the best on the album but while everything is decent enough in the track, its nothing particularly show-stopping.

Low

An encore from the deluxe edition, Low is a registered banger. Any song that includes RuPaul is an instant bop. Hall dons his drag persona again with amazing looks and some sickening dance moves! The beat, the lyrics, the visuals, everything is all on top form. A true club track and a strong finish.

Our Verdict Is: 

While his inspiration from past artists, especially Beyoncé can be quite evident throughout, Todrick has his own voice, and battles to face throughout this interesting hour of music. The majority of the songs are all well-crafted but there are of course a few duds among the group. The Oz theme is appealing but at times a little too shoe-horned into the proceedings. It is pleasant though to see a great piece of work from a gay perspective and overall we would call it a triumph.

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