dirty martini

old music for new people

reality the sequel: uk vs the us August 31, 2007

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well, in my original post i didn’t have room to feature so many of the other acts we have booed, loved and voted for across seven years of reality music shows.

in the uk, we have seen some quality acts get pushed aside by the likes of michelle mcmanus, chico, G4 and the cheeky girls. hopefully some of the lesser known acts here will take the experience and parlay it into something better than the occasional stint at butlins.

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4tune – babygirl

well, this lot had two shots at the x factor and bombed both times. they sound surprisingly good on this track though and have recorded an answer song to don’t cha by the pussycat dolls. they can’t possibly return a third time though – they need to give that one up.

roxanne cooper – all i want for christmas

everyone was shocked when roxanne was eliminated from pop idol, having been a favourite and easily the best singer that year. surprisingly, despite rumours of record deals and coronation street guest spots, nothing has materialised and to date this mariah carey cover is her only release that i know of.

zoe birkett – treat me like a lady

another likeable curly headed girl, zoe was in the unenviable position of vying with will young, gareth gates and er, housewives favourite darius danesh on the first pop idol in 2001. after being dropped from her record label, she married and divorced fellow pop idol contestant mark rhodes and is now dating bb6 winner anthony hutton. and she’s only just 22.

girls aloud – the show

love them or hate them, its impossible to ignore the fact that the girls are the biggest success story of uk reality shows. watching them triumph over one true voice and the pathetically out of touch pete waterman was a great moment. i still really want to slap the ginger one though. imagine how different javine’s life could be if she had made the band…

rowetta – step on by the happy mondays

ok i’m cheating here but i’ve heard rowetta’s single and its not great. what people are far more interested in is her time as backing singer for the happy mondays back in the late 80s and early 90s. how cool is that? i hate indie music but i love the ravey madchester stuff like this track and how can you not love bez?

jordin sparks – tattoo

how can someone so young be so confident and level headed? especially in the face of ridiculous accusations that she is dangerously overweight at a size 16. what? she’s not thin…but fat? she’s six feet tall for god’s sake! of course she needs to wear a 16. i hope she stays as she is, and stick two fingers up at US weight nazis…

kelly clarkson – the trouble with love is

…unlike the first idol winner, who seemed to crash diet the minute she accepted her prize. i can’t say i’m too fond of her work generally and there’s something really annoying about her. she does this open mouth, eyes wide open, ‘i’m so not listening to you, whatever’ thing.

vonzell solomon – dance tonight

baby v got the soul vote in a season of dull country and rock acts. she doesn’t have the most amazing voice but has that likeability thing going on. not sure we’ll hear from her again though.

paris bennett – i’m so hot

chose the wrong songs week after week and was probably just too young for the whole thing. her album seems to be doing ok and is fairly decent if not groundbreaking.

anwar robinson – maybe after all

lovely bob marley-alike anwar is yet to release a major label album. just too nice for words and the lack of competitive spirit maybe saw him eliminated before his time. of course i got accused of fancying him for calling him ‘nice’. um no, that would have been travis tucker that year… : )

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the fresh prince of the o2 August 30, 2007

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ok so i am going to see prince this week at the o2 stadium, and i’m getting a little excited.

i’m not a concert goer really, i have to really want to see an artist. prince has done a really good thing for his fans – firstly he’s kept ticket prices down and secondly he’s promised to sing what his fans want to hear. say what you want about his eccentricities but these actions speak volumes about his commitment to his fans.

to get myself in the mood, here are some more rare prince tracks, as a sequel to my first ever post. also check out those he produced for and those who went ahead and adopted his sound anyway…

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9 lives

originally written for cat glover and then turned into an unreleased morris day and the time track recorded for their 1990 album, pandemonium. the bassline sounds a bit like ‘7’ but this is more uptempo.

acknowledge me

unreleased track from the gold experience sessions that actually samples two other unreleased tracks from the 80s. very typical of prince’s early 90s output.

all day all night

a 1984 outtake, which probably means it was intended for around the world in a day. ended up on jill jones’ album three years later.

baby gogo

written for nona hendryx in 1986. i haven’t heard her version but i love the production on his.

extra loveable

one of my absolute favourite unreleased prince tracks – can only have been left off ‘1999’ due to the controversial lyrcis. but aren’t most of his lyrics controversial?

i wonder

written for purple rain, left off, then  prince returned to it 8 years later to rerecord new vocals. still unreleased despite being a fan favourite.

if i love you tonight

written in 1979 for an early incarnation of prince’s band the revolution,. actually released 11 years later by mica paris.

irresistible bitch

originally a 1982 b-side, then rerecorded for the abandoned camille project, with wendy and lisa on backup.

love..thy will be done/martika’s kitchen

former disney kid martika’s first album was pop fluff and covers. for her second album, prince provided her with a ready made set including these two songs.

miss understood

outtake from the 1984 project ‘the family’.

player

part of ‘the symbol’ sessions, this is a nice laid back tune.

the sex of it

written for and recorded by kid creole, but i prefer prince’s version.

 

90s girl groups – one hit wonders August 29, 2007

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if celebrity can be measured by the likelihood of someone turning up on a reality tv show, let’s be clear. these girls aren’t making it onto any islands, into any houses and won’t be choking down koala poo in any jungles.

image was a problem for many of the groups. in the early 90s, grunge influenced fashion even through to the polarised r&b scene. girl band members found themselves in lumberjack shirts, heavy denim and doc martens, in order to be taken serioously in the male dominated urban scene. topped off with heavy matt makeup and elaborate hairstyles that thankfully didn’t seem to move too much whilst they were dancing.

note tlc became far more successful once they ditched the tumble tots wear and condom-based accessories. check out the a list and the b list too. and the even less successful than on this list, list

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7669 – 69 ways to love a black man

i remember seeing 7669 videos on the box and thinking they were a bit ghetto. like an entire group of adina howards.  but they had some good tunes on east from a bad block, their one and only 1993 album. no doubt they would seem tame now and at least they wore clothes.

asia blue – escaping

in 1992 this was on my local radio station playlist and I’m surprised it didn’t become a much bigger hit. dina carroll covered it several years later but the original is far better. less r&b and more contemporary soul, with obvious new age influences.

blackgirl – krazy

ok, not so much one-hit wonders but in the UK at least, ’90s girl’ was their only success. this, their first track, features smooth. they actually recorded two albums, the second of which remains unreleased.

divine – lately

this was their only hit, rerecorded for the european market by samantha mumba. band member kia auditioned for this year’s american idol but didn’t make it past hollywood. they must have been young, then, when they were together?

earth gyrlz – love of mine

who were these girls? google uncovers little about them other than this track. and, that band member tanesha now performs in musicals so at least we know one of them has a job!

ex-girlfriend – why can’t you come home

started out in 1985 as petite, and recorded a tribute to new edition called ‘he’s so fine’. later became ex-girlfriend and had success with this and an album. stacy left and they continued as three for life but both solo and band attempts failed.

infiniti – will you be my baby

london-based trio. well, i had the single, grand puba was on the remix and he mentioned lauryn hill in his spot as far as i remember. band member dionne is now recording again after working in a pharmacy since the band split. but she did meet her husband there, so…result.

sa-deuce – don’t waste my time

there’s no information about this duo online. its scary to think that something from only just over a decade ago is lost forever just because no one put it online. it makes it seem really ancient.

s.h.e. – in the middle

another trio that failed to live up to their potential. the album ‘3’s a charm’ was nice but a little too commercial in parts. they remind me a bit of brownstone.

tcf crew – i ain’t the one

scant info on this group but they did record an answer track to color me badd’s ‘i wanna sex you up’ called ‘if you wanna sex me up’. would so love to find that. 

trellini – i wanna be yours

ok, as it turns out, not a group. i used to mix her up with tenderoni as they both had videos on the box around the same time, and i was looking for this track for years thinking it was one of theirs…

y?n-vee – chocolate

def jam group who are most memorable for their totally ghetto name.

 

before they were famous August 28, 2007

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 sometimes things take a little time to get right. i’m not talking britney spears in a meringue dress growling her way through early 90s hits on the mickey mouse club, or a pre-makeover jennifer lopez looking butch on in living color.

these are the early recordings that got feet in doors. some of them are better than others. that’s my disclaimer right there.

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luther vandross – the second time around (1976)

luther was originally part of a group, called ‘luther’. ooh, premature diva anyone? this song was from the first of two albums in 1976 and is standard mid 70s soul. he also sang an ad for kfc around the same time…soul food indeed.

alicia keys – sexy thing (1997)

a very young ms keys contributed this track to the men in black soundtrack. she sounds more or less the same but had developed a more unique tone by the time of her debut four years later.

ashanti – can’t stop (1997)

not sure how ashanti clung on for five years to make the leap from low budget debut to murder inc and innumerable collaborations with ja rule. these days an artist is stuffed if they don’t create a buzz on myspace within five weeks.

biggie – party and bullshit (1993)

nice lumberjack’n’fire-in-keg era hiphop. a year later, ‘ready to die’ was released and the rest is sad history. no doubt he would be the biggest rapper in the game if he were still alive. 

leona lewis – private party (2004)

recorded with ludacris before her appearance on x factor 2006, it makes you wonder if the music industry just sits back and waits for tv to tell them who to sign? well, good for her for going the proper route and being too nice to do anything unsavoury to get ahead.

usher – call me a mack (1993)

usher was only 14 when he recorded this for the poetic justice soundtrack and it shows. did usher’s early foray into the adult music business inspire his preference for older women? you’d think he could do better than a he-woman though.

john legend – hurt so bad (2003)

i think i might prefer jl’s early work to his current album. hmm. or maybe live just suits him better. he did several live sets before releasing a studio album.

janet jackson – young love (1982)

if a jackson couldn’t score a hit in 1982, you would assume it was because the music was poor. janet’s first two albums are quality post-disco soul but i think people were just expecting something a bit more groundbreaking. which ‘control’ certainly was.

mariah carey – weakness of the body (1986)

well, the leona lewis story seems to be repeating history to an extent. mariah was certainly active for several years before her debut and whitney was recording since the late 70s. maybe this is the secret to a long lasting career. rihanna’s stuffed, then…

anthony hamilton – total xtc (1996)

…but hopefully this bodes well for anthony, whose 90s debut was totally overlooked. the style is more conscious of its time than his successful later efforts, and not as well thought out, but very listenable.

prince – just another sucker (1977)

19 year old prince recorded this track as part of his then band 94 east. could have easily slotted into one of his later albums. must have sounded amazing in 1977 – to those few who actually got to hear it.

destiny’s child – killing time (1997)

this is a nice but unremarkable slow jam from the men in black soundtrack, but those vocals and harmonies are there. i miss the original lineup. wish some unreleased material would surface, that would be interesting.

 

i taste just like candy August 27, 2007

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everyone loves sweets, so what better way to demonstrate your love than by likening the object of your affection to your favourite candy?

i remember throwing an almighty strop because my infant school boyfriend got a love heart saying ‘sugar lips’ from my so-called best friend. similarly, you had to be careful not to encourage anyone desperate so would make sure they got a suitably neutral message ‘hi there’ or ‘whats up?’ usually did the trick.

a well-timed love heart could get you the plum role of princess leia or princess from battle of the planets, whilst the other girls got stuck playing hopscotch. playground politics at its best. 

sweet associations in music are sometimes innocent, sometimes obvious and sometimes….ll cool j (see below).

food and love are inextricably linked…

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aaron skyy – chocolate

long lost neo soul artist aaron sounds a bit identikit on this track, but it could just be the now dated early 00s sound.

anthony hamilton – icing on the cake

anthony likes to sing about food and girls who like their grub.

cameo – candy

much sampled 80s classic from codpiece and co.

city high – caramel

mellow club track from 2002.

edwin birdsong – cola bottle baby

used recently by daft punk and now resampled by kanye west for his new track ‘stronger’.

juicy – sugar free

slinky mid 80s jheri curl soul cut.

kelis – milkshake

the first and only song i ever heard about milkshake…

ll cool j – pink cookies in a plastic bag

what? pink cookies? don’t even try to decipher this one…

new edition – popcorn love

continuing where candy girl left off. so cute.

r.kelly and public announcement – honey love

overlooked single from r.kelly and PA’s debut in 1991.

shabba ranks and patra – ice cream love

remake of old reggae track. somehow shabba and ice cream seem wrong together.

sylvers – cotton candy

typically sweet 70s boy band soul.

 

the truth about boy bands: the 80s August 26, 2007

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looking at the picture above, i wonder exactly why we ever thought george michael was straight? i was too young to know the difference, but i did always prefer andrew ridgeley…

80s fans were fiercely loyal to their band. a brosette would never admit liking a song by wet wet wet, or vice versa. this was tantamount to betrayal. i was too young to participate but i liked watching older girls argue about the relative merits of wham and duran duran. the first boy band i liked was a-ha, and morten harket kind of looked like patrick swayze.

14 is the proper age for a boy band fan, i think. i was 13 when nkotb arrived and so jordan knight was my main boyband crush. he was infinitely more interesting than his brother jon who professed a liking for tea and cakes and was going out with tiffany, of the batwing jumpers and shopping mall performances.

the early 80s boy bands were operating alongside the new romantics and so looked, frankly, like big girls. flicked and highlighted hair, pastels, sometimes even makeup. later, the look became more masculine, with ripped jeans, doc martens and leather jackets.

you can also check out their predecessors in my 70s boyband post, or those that followed in the 90s and 00s.

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nkotb – valentine girl

four of the new kids enjoyed adoration from screaming teen girls the world over. the other one was danny wood. horse face inexplicably made it into this band despite having neither looks or talent. it was easy to believe danny when he said he didn’t have a girlfriend. at least dane bowers had a voice.

new edition – mr telephone man

the predecessors to nkotb and the first glimpse of bad boy bobby brown, who at the age of 16,in 1985, found himself a father during the height of their success. i don’t remember this being common knowledge when he went solo shortly after. this for me is the best boy band track of the 80s.

johnny hates jazz – shattered dreams

don’t remember much about this group, but the singer had a nice voice and they fitted well with the whole late 80s yuppy soul vibe. filed under 80s cocktail lounge listening.

duran duran – rio

simon le bon and co may actually be the perpetrators of the miami vice style, pastel suit with bright t shirt, rolled up sleeves and loafers combo. between them, the group had so much hair it was ridiculous. john taylor, my favourite, was involved with it girl amanda de cadenet. kind of like tamara beckwith but even more annoying.

wet wet wet – sweet little mystery

scottish blue eyed soul band who did well in the 80s, but really made their cash in the 90s with ‘love is all around’, which was no1 for so long that they had it withdrawn. were they mad? take the cash and run! have since admitted they barely needed to work again thanks to four weddings and a funeral.

musical youth – sixteen

british pop reggae group who would be seen in amusing locations such as the houses of parliament, terrorising stuffy old people. wore baseball caps well. had a certain cachet once it became known that ‘pass the dutchie’ was about smoking weed. ok, so admittedly i still didn’t get it at the time, but i was about six!

bros – chocolate box

south london twins matt and luke and their school friend craig started the ripped jeans and leather craze that defined the end of the 80s. also wore grolsch bottle tops on their shoes, which I had to persuade my dad to get for me despite the fact that he hated grolsch.

wham – credit card baby

probably the most iconic 80s boyband and certainly the campest. hair that defied gravity, hawaiian shirts, shorts, it was all there. battled with frankie goes to hollywood for biggest selling tshirt. in 1984 you could just print ‘choose life’ or ‘frankie says relax’ on a white tshirt and sell millions…

brother beyond – he ain’t no competition

played second fiddle to bros for the most part, but nathan moore had more screaming girls after him as he was fit in a nick kamen kind of way and matt and luke were blond which isn’t every woman’s cup of tea. then nathan shattered the illusion somewhat by becoming the latest in a long line of gullible popstars to get involved with 80s wannabe amanda de cadenet.

spandau ballet – true

the girliest of all the 80s boy bands, and its hilarious to think that martin kemp ended up as bad boy steve owen in eastenders. this song was an end-of-the-school-disco staple along with ‘crazy for you’ and ‘careless whisper’.

a-ha – you are the one

morten, mags and pal caused mass hysteria and filled the boyband shaped void left when wham split and duran duran started getting married and having kids. being from norway their music has a slightly melancholy feel to it, even their uptempo tunes like this one.

curiosity killed the cat – misfit

notable at the time for the lead singer having an odd name – ben voppliere-pierriot – and a slightly girly penchant for berets. smash hits, reliably, gave him a more memorable name of ben volauvent-pierrot-parrot-thingy not everyone will remember that they did the original version of ‘ring ring ring’ by de la soul, called ‘name and number’. i can’t remember how it goes now.

 

the truth about boy bands: the 70s August 25, 2007

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after the hysteria surrounding the beatles and stones in the 60s, one thing was clear. cute boys were a one way ticket to an early retirement. motown and stax were huge, but in a global sense, british pop had ruled the 60s.

calling some of these acts boybands is stretching it a bit – not all of them were successful in a commercial sense and would consider themselves male singing groups. however, if they sang songs that sent teenage girls crazy, they are boybands for the purposes of this post!

70s boyband essentials:

1. afro – natural or fake, the bigger the better. use an old skool microphone for inspiration.

2. flares – again, anything less than a 20 inch flare is just a mere wide trouser

3. falsetto – sprinkle liberally

4. family connections – if you’re not related, at least dress identically

also check out those they inspired in my 80s and 90s/00s boyband posts.

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jackson five – sugar daddy

the most famous 70s boyband, who started as backup to megalomaniac diana ross. why does that woman always get to force more talented people into the background? no clue back then as to how things would turn out with wacko or that jermaine would end up on big brother.

osmonds – one bad apple

more soulful than ‘love me for a reason’ and nowhere near as weird as ‘crazy horses’. many fortysomething women still swoon over donny osmond. which is easy to do if you’re uk based as he is the default chat show guest. he’s a nice bloke though

bloodstone – oh honey

usually a credible funk band that worked with marvin gaye and curtis mayfield, to name but two, but this track is pure 70s boy soul.

delfonics – trying to make a fool of me

revered 70s philly band who specialised in sweet ballads and falsetto. which makes this one of their more uptempo offerings.

sylvers – misdemeanor

sweet sounding ten piece family band who sang about girls, despite several sisters being in the band at one time or another. easy now to see where maurice starr got the inspiration for new edition.

chi-lites – oh girl

is it my imagination or did 80s mullet paul young cover this at one point? they also had the indiginity of seeing ‘have you seen her’ butchered by mc hammer. did they really need the cash??

detroit emeralds – you want it, you got it

another family group, who often dressed in green to labour the point about their name. in case you didn’t get it.

embers – little red book

very little is known about this group, but most people know this track.

five stairsteps – i love you stop

actually the original 70s brother band, predating the jackson five by a year or two. tried to yank back the crown with this track which sounds very much like ‘i want you back’.

o’jays – used to be my girl

hugely successful and adaptable band who rode the philly soul wave then settled into the disco era effortlessly. actually way too good to be called a boyband.

moments and whatnauts – girls

this collaboration between these two groups is probably their most well known work.

temptations – ain’t too proud to beg

enduring motown group, with a penchant for matching outfits. this song is actually from the 60s but…i like it, and i remember the temptatons being called the original boyband at some point.