dirty martini

old music for new people

britain’s got talent April 19, 2008

there is more to the uk than leona, joss and amy.

i’m not getting into estelle’s rant about whether white girls can claim soul. i’ve barley heard adele or duffy but from the snippets i haven’t managed to avoid, i would think we’re in danger of confusing soul, which they may well have a claim on, with r&b, which is the category estelle et al would fall into.

but her point about the under-represented existing soul/r&b artists in the uk is true. some – beverley knight, jamelia – are often persuaded to stray into pop territory to raise their profile. i would say there’s a huge talent chasm between those two however. somehow i don’t think anyone will be talking about jamelia in a few years, no matter who she’s slating. bitter 30 something brummie with cheating footballer husband – now that will not be a good look.

download here

corinne bailey rae – young and foolish

craig david and kano – this is the girl

estelle – 1980

keisha white – out of my hands

lemar – someone should tell you

lisa maffia – bad girl

nate james – universal

taio cruz – backseat love

terri walker – flirtin’

winta gordon – surveillance

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the britszzzzzz….. February 21, 2008

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 so, despite some precarious moments thanks to the autocue dodging osborne family, last night’s brit awards went off without any major hitches. everyone in attendance was absolutely ratted but it was just as well as it provided mild entertainment against the musical banality.

the highlight was probably kanye west getting cut off again but the full clip will probably soon surface on youtube so we won’t miss out on the latest instalment of kanye’s soapbox.

is anyone really surprised we have an alcohol crisis in this country? i wasn’t averse to a malibu at the age 14 myself but its just everywhere now. we didn’t see pissed people on tv unless oliver reed was on.

fab macca thumbs aloft made an excruciatingly well timed appearance to receive an achievement award that, oh yes, the spice girls nabbed about ten years ago. then he sang some beatles tracks to remind us that he’s entitled to keep his cash. i was really late for work on the day of the gmtv heather mills interview…

but who did you really want to win? has allowing ‘urban’ nominations in the standard categories made much of a difference if nauseatingly quirky indie bands win everything anyway? hardly representative of britain’s current musical taste across all classes is it? students and estate agents, maybe.

anyway, these are my brit awards. stuff the arctic monkeys and their sub-liam gallagher, sub-brandon block, sub-jarvis cocker act right up….

british male solo artist
actual winner: james morrison
my winner: lemar

british female solo artist
actual winner: amy winehouse
my winner: yeah I’ll go with that

british album
actual winner: arctic monkeys – some shit indie music
my winner: probably amy again

british group
actual winners: arctic monkeys
my winners: sugababes

british breakthrough act
actual winners: the fratellis
my winner: leona lewis

international breakthrough act
actual winner: orson
my winner:  van hunt

british live act
actual winners: muse
my winner: beverley knight

british single
actual winner: take that – patience
my winner: leona should have got this, surely

international male solo artist
actual winner: justin timberlake
my winner: not disagreeing with that

international female solo artist
actual winner: nelly furtado
my winner: it’s been rihanna’s year

international group
actual winners: the killers
my winner: i don’t know…2007 wasn’t been a great year for groups

international album
actual winners: the killers – sam’s town
my winner: ryan leslie – used to be

outstanding contribution to music: prince

 

saturday night divas October 28, 2007

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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.

 

00s brit soul – national identity June 3, 2007

finally, after the copycat 80s and highs and lows of the 90s, british soul was ready to take on its own identity.

one of the first ways in which it achieved this was by redefining soul. house and garage were big business in the 90s, but the urban clubs and superclubs rarely mixed. typically, r&b was a smaller room adjacent to the the cheesier, townie clubs and didn’t even get a look in at cream, renaissance and the ministry of sound.

 

the speed garage scene that took off in the late 90s eventually slowed to a two step beat, and created a completely new sound. r&b vocals were married to stuttering, club-friendly beats and for a few years, between 1999 and 2002, uk garage was the sound of young UK.

 

after the inevitable drop in demand, uk hiphop and r&b were faced with a decision. either they could continue to emulate their US counterparts or they could use elements of uk garage to make their output distinctly british.

now we have traditional soul, copycat r&b, grime and some artists that defy classification and confuse the hell out of the yanks. we’re back in business…

 

twelve very different uk tracks from the 00sdownload here


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

lemar – if there’s any justice

the only good thing to come out of the dull fame academy, simon cowell surely wishes he’d been able to get to lemar first. lemar, like girls aloud, has truly transcended his reality show beginnings and is pretty much the best current british male r&b act.

 

 

misteeq – why

south london girl band who leveraged links with the so solid crew to create a successful career in the early 00s. swiftly shook off their uk garage roots by the time they reached their second album in 2002. the group split largely due to their label, polydor, sinking after investing way too much in tone deaf victoria beckham. that’s got to hurt.
 

unklejam – love ya

relative newcomers who have been blessed/cursed with the ‘sounds a bit like prince‘ tag. time will tell if there is more to them than this track, but the odds are in their favour with the hype reaching all corners of the globe right now. another myspace success.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sadie ama – so sure

shola’s little sister had a valuable induction into the industry at an early age, and she’s making some good choices production-wise, collaborating with the likes of kano and terror danjah amongst others. looks and sounds exactly the same – with shola expected to relaunch anytime soon, could be interesting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

conner reeves – oughtabelaw

irish soul boy who first came to prominence in the late 90s. this track from last year deserved way more attention. possibly one of the breed of artists that has suffered greatly from the download revolution as his image doesn’t quite fit his music. i always think people navigate this poor fit by just grabbing the audio.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

emmanuel and terri walker – flirtin’

always tipped to break through. hopefully it will happen for her before she is talked into a beverley knight-style commercial compromise. this track is from emmanuel‘s 2006 project that featured numerous british soul artists on his productions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

keisha white – open like so

came through around the same time as keyshia cole, and is far more talented, but received about 5% of the promotion. so, keyshia collaborates with p diddy and is set to release her second album whilst keisha‘s future is unknown. harsh. a good example of why leona lewis has been whisked off to the us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

nate james – universal

actually received some promotion around his debut in 2005, and it did ok. i’m going to be lazy and say he’s a hybrid of stevie wonder and lenny kravitz and worthy of your attention. hopefully an association with next big thing, sway, will catapult him back into the limelight.

 

 

 

 

 

craig david – seven days with mos def

back in 2000, referring yourself in the third person was even more ridiculous than it is now. the ensuing bo selecta parody may outlive his music in the nation’s consciousness if he doesn’t pull his finger out soon. craig, unfazed, still refers to himself in the third person when appearing on mtv cribs showing us how all his cash has enabled him to construct a state of the art pulling den. no women in sight though, and you can’t swing a jocasi bag round london without hitting someone he’s tried it on with.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ms dynamite – fall in love again

made a good contract choice and got the promotion other uk artists would kill for. this resulted in numerous awards for her debut album which, although nice enough, sounds dated only five years later. this track, from her largely ignored second album, will hopefully age a bit better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

spl2rge – scuse me

like unklejam, appear to be on the verge of big things, promotion notwithstanding. i never hold my breath on these things anymore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

taio cruz – i just wanna know

mario soundalike who can’t be accused of trying to create a british identity. which is fair enough. we don’t want to end up like the irish, who have to be irish all the time.

 

 

90s brit soul – quality over quantity April 30, 2007

at the turn of the decade, it looked as if uk soul had found an identity. for the most part, artists eschewed the trappings of new jack swing, with its distinctly american, over-produced sound, for a truly local style.


soul ii soul spearheaded this movement, that whilst fiercely british, paid homage to the daisy age, summer of love principles of artists such as de la soul. some stayed true to their soul roots, some moved into dancier territory and others built the foundations of new genres – acid jazz and jungle/drum and bass.


it was looking positive. but as r&b moved into the mainstream in the mid 90s, uk artists gazed enviously at their us counterparts and tried to emulate their success. usually this resulted in a diluted experience that wasn’t street enough for the clubs, yet still too urban for the dinner party set.


these are the ones that survived despite the odds.


ten 90s brit soul survivorsdownload here

shola ama – you’re the one i love – 1996
shola
signed a deal on her 16th birthday that would lead her to become the UK’s most successful r&b female singer in the late 90s. in good rags-to-riches tradition, she was discovered singing at a tube station and released her first single ‘celebrate’ on an independent label in 1995. amusingly, her wikipedia entry declares an addiction to pork pies as a reason for her downfall. when ‘pork pies’ became a euphemism for ‘cocaine’, i’m not sure…





kele le roc – my love – 1999


kele has perhaps become more well known for guest appearances with artists such as basement jaxx than for her solo career. her debut arrived at a time when every r&b single was subjected to the 2-step remix treatment and the uk garage mix of ‘my love’ is one of the best known examples of the genre and certainly eclipsed this underappreciated ignorants‘ r&b mix at the time.


caron wheeler – i adore you – 1992

a stalwart of the uk black music scene since her days in teenage lovers rock band brown sugar in the mid 70s. in the late 80s caron hooked up with legendary dj jazzie b and the rest is history. her role in soul ii soul laid the foundations for a renewed solo career and her album ‘uk blak‘ was released in 1990 to critical acclaim. ‘i adore you’ is her best known solo track, from the 1992 soundtrack ‘mo’ money‘.


elisha la verne – i may be single – 1996

elisha seemed destined for bigger things when she arrived in 1996. like many other artists, she has found enduring success in japan. i can remember a pa she did at my local club in 1996 that was met with cool indifference by the predominantly house-loving crowd. if she’d arrived a few years later things could have been quite different.


tongue ‘n’ cheek – nobody – 1990

tongue’n’cheek’s initial outings, covers of cheryl lynn and patrice rushen disco-era classics, were met enthusiastically after the foundations for brit soul were laid by soul ii soul. this track, remixed from an 1988 original, had a new jack swing feel to it and was far more interesting. tongue’n’cheek suffered somewhat from being difficult to pigeonhole as either a soul or dance music act.


kenny thomas – thinking about your love – 1991

cheeky chappy kenny thomas charmed his way in to the british record buying public’s hearts with a cover of the gap band’s ‘outstanding’, together with winsome video in which he strolled through an east end market. this track was another cover, but not many people realised at the time. he also covered the force md’s ‘tender love’ as if it was his own soon after, capitalising on the fact that mainstream britain knew fuck all about soul music until quite recently. fair play to him.


celetia – missing your love – 1995

with aaliyah, monica and brandy on the scene, it was decided that the UK needed its own underage r&b starlet. enter brixon girl celetia martin, sort of. her debut album failed to ignite, with the then 14 year old slammed for her raunchy lyrics. sometimes i wonder what these critics were doing when they were 14 – knitting? it wasn’t really that shocking… her second album ‘runaway skies’ saw her adopt a more unique and organic persona and was infinitely more successful. she now lives in LA and is working with big name producers such as soulshock and carlin. impressive.


lynden david hall – do i qualify – 1998

could have been one of the biggest artists in the uk if his life wasn’t cut short last year due to hodgkin’s lymphoma. first album ‘medicine 4 my pain’ was a huge success in 1998, and was the first uk artist voted as best male by blues and soul readers. he went on to star in ‘love actually’ as a wedding singer.








don-e – love makes the world go round – 1992

don-e arrived in 1992 with this sunny track, from his debut ‘unbreakable’. although his career stalled after this brief success, he resurfaces occasionally, and joined forces with deni hines to cover new edition’s ‘delicious’ to great effect in 1995.

beverley knight – flavour of the old school – 1994

the most consistently successful artist on this list and owner of an amazing voice. beverley started out in 1994 with ‘b-funk’, and i prefer this early material to her later more poppy/mainstream offerings as I get a bit annoyed when uk r&b artists feel the need to start including guitars in their work to get any kind of recognition…