dirty martini

old music for new people

teenage love affair July 10, 2008

before t’internet, there were magazines. ok there still are magazines but i now buy two per month – heat and glamour – whereas back in the day i used to get about ten.

just seventeen was good for horoscopes and those little free books that taught you to be a total stalker, in a completely non-harmless way of course…’close your eyes and think of a question. stick a pencil down anywhere on the page. find the symbol you land on and the answer will be revealed….’he thinks you’re too good for him’. well, durrrr.

more! was of interest primarily for the problem pages, which went slightly beyond that of the other titles. there was no ‘shoud i kiss him or not?’ boys at school would pore over these pages in great detail, before checking position of the fortnight. ‘oh yeah…done that already.’ ‘who with?’ ‘you don’t know her…i met her on holiday…’

mizz dealt in hardcore compatibility charts. so if you were an aries and you liked a pisces you were basically screwed. question: did anyone actually look a compatibility chart, see that their intended target was suitable and then march up to them at school the next day? no. it made no difference except if he turned you down…’we weren’t compatible anyway, he’s a fucking leo, i can’t be doing with it…’

minx ruled. it dared to take the piss out of gormless celebs like ‘louise out of eternal’ and the spice girls, much to the anger of their PRs, as I remember. i have no idea why it disappeared so suddenly, everyone i knew loved it.

download here

alicia keys – teenage love affair

amazulu – too good to be forgotten

aaliyah – age ain’t nothin’ but a number

beyonce – my first time

chairmen of the board – since there were pigtails

cool notes – you’re never too young

erykah badu – back in the day

hot chocolate – it started with a kiss

ryan leslie – used to be

shanice – i love your smile

sister sledge – frankie

slick rick – teenage love

 

21 again? April 9, 2008

there is no news in the revelation that celebs lie about their age but it doesn’t get any less ridiculous.

they can get caught out by their voting records like ashton kutcher, resentful ex-classmates or their own desire to purge themselves and tell the truth, thus angering their publicist.

alicia keys

enemy of the stars, wendy williams, claims that rootsy alicia isn’t quite so authentic and is a few years older than she claims. her apparent maturity suggests that this could be true. she debuted in 1997 with ‘sexy thing’ on the men in black soundtrack.

amerie

her opening offer was 1982. no one bid. do i hear 1980? *crickets* ok, 1978? going once…

beyonce

who knows if that 1974 birth certificate is real? bee looked about 27 ten years ago and rumour has it this wouldn’t be the only secret she’s managed to keep. personally i think she may be telling the truth and just had a bad case of the catherine zeta joneses. just think how old she would look if she wasn’t spending an alleged 20k a month on her beauty regime.

jennifer lopez

achieved career nirvana and sang like a canary (once) when faced with police interrogation, and admitted to being born a year earlier than previously stated. hey, who else can we do this to?

kelis

shaved a year off her age in her early career until a la guardia classmate blew the whistle. others claim its more like five years. i just don’t see the point…she’s not that type of girl. i’m going to try and be tactful here….it just doesn’t make a difference, you know?

madonna

apparently her publicist made her lie about her age in the early days, but madonna herself revealed that she was two years older, having been born the same year as wacko. bet the leotard botherer wishes she had those two years back now that the big 5-0 is approaching.

michelle williams

made the mistake of standing in front of a banner reading ‘class of 1989’ for a yearbook photo. lol. even if that was just an old banner, everyone is too ready to believe she looks old enough to be 37, so it doesn’t matter if it’s true or not.

smooth

without a shadow of a doubt the most barefaced liar on this list. check her 1990 videos on youtube when she was apparently 11. although nothing would surprise me in that family i think chris stokes has an older sister not a younger one. a source claims that she was actually 34 a few years back – you do the math.

snoop

wiki says he could be anything up to 41 years old by now. which makes sense seeing as how he’s been on the scene since i was at school…and i’m not going into how long ago that was right now…

teedra moses

i’ve mentioned her age on here before and been told off (well, as far as you can tell someone who isn’t bothered). the wiki changed pretty quickly from 82 to 76 and that’s only three years off the truth. progress.

 

i love 1983: the soul weekender March 26, 2008

skater-sindy.jpg 

in 1983, i learned to skate. i had my little ponies and i spent my spare time learning to skip. french skip, even.

i had no idea that soul weekenders even existed. my uncle probably went to them and despite the fact that i trailed him like a lemming for the first eight years of my life, he probably escaped on the odd weekend, and went down to brighton to play with the other soul boys and girls.

i don’t often wish i had been born sooner or later, but i would have loved to go to a real soul weekender back in the day. 

download here

anthony franklin – hot number

deco – fresh idea

fatback band – i found lovin’

forrest – she’s so divine

gary byrd and the gb experience – the crown

gwen guthrie -padlock

kashif – i just gotta have you

mtume – juicy fruit

o’bryan – lovelite

paul simpson – use me lose me

system – you’re in my system

tom tom club – genius of love

 

‘…sounds a bit like prince…’ January 4, 2008

snoopss3.jpg

 as a new artist, or even as an established artist, one of the greatest endorsements is to be labelled as sounding ‘a bit like prince’.

the saving grace of lazy journalists everwhere, these few words can rescue a flopping album, even if they are only bestowed upon one or two tracks. now that prince himself is more rock-fixated, the promise of just one or two scraps reminiscent of his 80s prime can be sufficient to spark interest amongst the musical cognoscenti.

to a lesser extent, this peculiar brand of retro copycat hype has previously been applied to artists lauded as the new ‘stevie wonder’ or ‘madonna’. there isn’t going to be a new prince, and it turned out out that those artists were similarly irreplaceable. the excitable, yet totally unreal, music journalism of the the late 90s has given way to a more considered approach.

we don’t need a new prince – clearly the man has produced gargantuan amounts of music and yet more could be unleashed at any point (please). the accessibility of retro music means that we don’t need rafts of exciting new artists – gone are the days when you had to pay a premium to get hold of music that was no longer in the charts.

we just need a few new songs every now and then. and they should sound as much like ‘when doves cry’ as possible.

download here

alicia keys – like you’ll never see me again

debuted with an album containing a prince cover – a b side no less, to show her fan credentials.  on this track, not only the production, but the vocal style and lyrics ooze purple. a lesser artist could be accused of bandwagon hopping but alicia has already proved herself.

chris brown – take you down

chris brown, however, has clearly been advised that the tumble tots r&b will only take him so far and is trialling a new, more adult musical direction – prince. job one should have been to work on that childish feature in his voice that makes him sound like he’s not old enough to form singular vowels – evidence: ‘you make me say yeeeeeoooooaaaaaawwwwww’. shit, my cat forms better vowels than that.

the dream – fast car

i like what i’ve heard from the dream so far, which isn’t a lot. but this and album track ‘nikki’ do reek of ‘obligatory prince-esque production’ to hook gullible and lazy journalists and perk up enthusiastic but clueless PR. basically this is ‘little red corvette’ not-so-updated for the 00s.

erykah badu – honey

an interesting detour for ms badu. i love her music but neo-soul artists can often fall into the dull and worthy trap, making their albums unlistenable by the time they get to their fourth outing.

justin timberlake and beyonce – until the end of time

the influence is slightly more subtle here, but those ‘when doves cry’ instruments are there, just slower, and the overall vibe is classic prince slow jam.

kevin michael – liquid lava love

like robin thicke with a curly afro and arguably more soul. expect big things from this one.

ne-yo – sex with my ex

ne-yo got a lot of stick for allegedly being gay. then when he fathered a child, he got a lot of stick for being ugly. now he’s getting a lot of stick for churning out a raft of soundalike tracks for the artsts he produces for. with all this abuse perhaps he’ll soon have more in common with craaaaaaig david.

p diddy and keyshia cole – last night

an absolute, straight in your face ‘erotic city’ ripoff so blatant that you can’t really argue. as ever, diddy’s montone adds little to the proceedings.

ryan leslie – i-r-i-n-a

ryan leslie’s productions have more than a whiff of purple about them but his own album was fairly narrative and self-celebratory which isn’t prince’s style. prince’s lyrics are cute and playful and focus on the subject rather than the protagonist and so i’m talking production similarities here – there’s no parallel in terms of subject matter, although this is the closet r-les gets to purple greatness.

snoop – sensual seduction

the video and lyrics are classic prince, but the production?  not like anything i’ve heard from prince, but perhaps i’m missing something. the synths are straight out of early 90s chillout, i’m pretty sure they’re too floaty and random for the machine funk of the 80s. nice combo though, me likey.

sterling simms – nasty girl

sterling jumps right back to late 70s prince while everyone else tries to recreate the 80s.

van hunt – hot stage lights

i only just listened to van hunt after hearing his name for years. and now i have a new musical crush. the only good thing about discovering artists late is that there is usually plenty of material to whet your appetite.

 

saturday night divas October 28, 2007

bratz.jpg

so, apparently next saturday these acts will perform together as ‘divas’ on behalf of breast cancer awareness month. fair enough.

its clearly an odd mix of actual divas, those with an album to promote and those that are lucky to be asked. i’m surprised that local girls beverley knight, sugababes, shola ama and keisha white aren’t involved. i would have liked to see amerie, letoya and kelis make the trip, and kelly rowland is already here.

beyonce, mariah, mary and rihanna perhaps had more pressing engagements…saturday night divas is on itv1 next saturday.

download here

leona lewis – loving you

this is really a showcase for leona, she will certainly benefit from this event more than any of the other acts. it was funny watching her being forced to smash a bottle on loose women last week (gotta love that ‘working from home’). she clearly is so uncomfortable being anything less than nice to people and this is why she’ll prove that you don’t have to be a bitch to be recognised for your talent.

alicia keys – a woman’s worth

a proper role model and a diva who can actually play her own instruments. plus, there’s nothing more diva-like than making a man wait for you. you have to love someone who chooses to do an unplugged session in this era of miming and autotune.

chaka khan – i feel for you

i wish they’d got some more old skool divas to represent alongside chaka. some idiot news bimbo on another blog with a write up of this show was all like ‘omigod, chaka khan, like, who knew she was still going?’ words fail me.

celine dion – misled

this is the only celine dion song i could stand to put on here, from back in the day, before she perfected that weird, spaced out, ‘i’m above all this’ glare.

jennifer lopez – feelin’ so good

a true diva in every sense bar her voice. which would not have won her a recording contract if she hadn’t had the looks, rhythm and acting ability to pull off the performances. so fair play to her, and her voice does appear to be improving.

jamelia – stop

brummie bigmouth jamelia is talented but suffers from beverley knight syndrome, ie, much of her music is too MOR, in a vain attempt win over middle britain. she also has the most obnoxious PR ever, assuming they are the reason she is always desperately bitching about other artists to gain publicity.

girls aloud – the show

clearly only invited as they are the product of an itv reality show. not that i dislike the girls but divas, purlease…WAGs, yes. nadine is the only one who can really sing like a diva but ok, cheryl cole certainly has the deluded self belief.

natasha bedingfield – unwritten

why are the bedingfields so annoying? is it just the big teeth or the ‘i’m really wholesome and i know how marketable that is’ attitude. you can imagine the bedingfield family upbringing – member of every kids club going, meals at the table and constant affirmations as to their allround wonderfulness. but diva? not a hope in hell.

 

neo soul pioneers October 25, 2007

afro-3.gif

 it would be easy to assume that neo-soul artists started to emerge in retaliation to the commercial and ostentatious r&b scene we’ve had since the late 90s.

 in fact, neo soul’s inception was much earlier, sometime in the early 90s. suddenly there were artists who weren’t new jack swing, they weren’t 8os, and they didn’t really complement the g funk scene. their closest contemporaries were the jazzhiphop and daisy age movement, but this sound was based on a classic soul sound updated for the new decade.

polished, note perfect vocals and overproduced instrumentals were replaced with more organic sounds and melancholy vocals. one of the things i really love about neo-soul is that whilst the lyrics are generally more intelligent and so better crafted than most r&b, there is an honesty and accessibility that speaks directly to you.

download here

d’angelo – brown sugar

one of the few comnmercially successful neo-soul artists. the naked image on his second album didn’t hurt.

des’ree – feel so high

default brit nominee des’ree started her career with this track in 1992, and has bubbled under ever since. last year she took on beyonce after she rerecorded ‘kissing you’ without permission. can’t wait to see how that one turns out…

jazzyfatnastees – unconventional ways

girl duo formed in 1992, originally with four member but now going strong as a duo supporting the likes of jill scott and alicia keys.

jhelisa – friendly pressure

didn’t receive that much attention on release but was revived a few laters with popular uk garage mixes by sunship.

lauryn hill – ex-factor

who knew the girl hailed as the saviour of soul would end up looking and acting like a circus freak? she had everything going for her, maybe the pressure to deliver another ‘miseducation’ was just too great?

lynden david hall – the jimmy lee story

sadly departed, and i’m glad he had that cameo in love actually or he might have been forgotten in a decade’s time. criminally underrated.

me’shell ndegeocello – if that’s your boyfriend

as difficult to categorise as pronounce, i heard of me’shell years ago but never quite got round to hearing her music until recently.

oleta adams – rhythm of life

best known for ‘get here’ but this was actually her first single in 1990.

omar – something real

a later track from omar lye-fook, who all but invented neo-soul with ‘there’s nothing like this’.

rahsaan patterson – crush on you

later reworked by lil kim and biggie. rahsaan has been a consistent figure since the early 90s.

seal – future love paradise

i never did get why seal rereleased ‘killer’ a year after adamski’s original version with him on vocals. i still think of ‘killer’ as an adamski track and cetainly this track and ‘crazy’ were a millions miles from the rave scene.

shara nelson – one goodbye in ten

not sure what happened to shara. after rising to fame with massive attack, she had commercial success with her first album in 1993, then promptly disappeared.

 

less is more: real divas don’t oversing October 15, 2007

breaking-glass.jpg 

the principal objection to r&b, from those who remain unenamoured, is usually the tendency for certain singers to attempt to fit ten notes into a space where one will suffice.

its often viewed as showing off and the results are often hysterical, and i don’t mean funny. whilst a good range and the ability to scale is impressive, it can detract from the meaning of the lyrics. how many times have you sat there and cringed whilst a singer trills their way through an entire album?

vocal gymnastics aren’t big and they’re not clever.  plus – they’re just so 90s,

top 10 offenders/songs

1. christina aguilera – singing anything. i hate her voice. oh look its a little girl with a big voice. lets see what she can make it do…

2. mariah carey – singing ballads. i actually think the whitney criticisms are off – she controls her voice too well to make this list. on occasion, mariah’s lunacy shines through her vocals. bless her.

3. kelly price – on ‘friend of mine’, she actually sounded the death knell for the melisma that had built into a crescendo up until that point in the 90s. too much.

4. beyonce – especially the dangerously in love ballads and most of destiny fulfilled. she was constantly trying to outsing kelly and michelle. and seems to have gone nuts since letoya crashed onto the scene and jennifer stole her thunder.

5. mary j.blige – now i love mary, and god knows if anyone should be histrionic, she’s had a hard time of it. but i like her better when she reins it in.

download here

aaliyah – the thing i like

too cool to coo. i heard that aaliyah’s laidback style was due to her undivalike tendency to allow the backing track to play centre stage and let her vocals wash over them. so effective.

alicia keys – a woman’s worth

content with showing her all round musical ability with her vocals only one of the instruments at her disposal. which is the mark of a real musician. she remains classier than her contemporaries and will far outlast them.

amerie – crush

maybe the reason amerie isn’t as successful in the US is her apparent refusal to screech and holler. i think she has a nice tone to her voice and knows she doesn’t need to dress it up that much.

angie stone – wish i didn’t miss you

it would be easy for a curvy lady like angie to overcompensate with her impressive range. oh and this is one of the best uses of a classic sample, ever.

beverley knight – queen of starting over

sounding more like aretha as time passes, and one of the only r&b singers who is actually good enough to oversing if the mood requires. i just wish she didn’t feel the need to MOR all her work.

sarah anne webb (d’influence) – there can be

criminally overlooked singer sarah anne webb has since left the group to be replaced by a host of others. and it doesn’t sound like d’influence anymore.

deborah cox – sentimental

ok, now that she’s a gay icon, some of deborah’s vocals are sailing close to the edge. but when she arrived in 1995, she was the queen of understated cool with this 2 step classic.

leona lewis – what you do to me

leona could so easily have alienated last year’s x factor viewers by oversinging but she managed to rein in her musical upbringing and used her range appropriately, rather than unnecessarily.

n’dea davenport (brand new heavies) spend some time

acid jazz was never about excessive vocal gymnastics anyway, but n’dea is a prime example of a powerful voice not trying too hard.

sade – the sweetest taboo

sade just doesn’t look like someone about to holler and whoop. and i can’t think of a single occasion in her lengthy career when she would have needed to stoop to that level.

shola ama – you’re the one i love

honey voiced shola has always been the uk’s understated export and it may have cost her in some ways. which is a sad indictment of the industry.

teedra moses – be my girl

ok so, i have criticised the smokescreen surrounding teedra’s real age lately and been scolded. what i will say is that she’s grown enough to realise that runs are for kids.