dirty martini

old music for new people

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.

 

princespiration or just prince-piration? September 15, 2007

princespiration.jpg

since the mid 80s, prince has been an inspiration for many artists, across all genres. his signature sound is uniquely prince and hard to define – for those not lucky enough to work with him or be granted their own piece of purple magic, there was considerable effort behind emulating those tight, suggestive vocals, flirty lyrics, electric production and syncopated beats.

‘sounds a bit like prince’ is lazy music journalism these days but his influence has shone through, and to be awarded such a accolade is every new artists’ marketing department dream, with stevie wonder a close second.

check out some rare prince and some even rarer prince and some artists he actually wanted to share his style with.

here are some songs that make me think of prince when i hear them:

download here

black buddafly – sexyback

nasty delivery and those beats. the girls’ answer track definitely outsasses justin timberlake and their musical upbringing has clearly taken in some of prince’s sleazier joints.

britney spears – i’m a slave for you

the neptunes were most definitely channelling lovesexy when they produced this track for britney. christina aguilera may have stronger vocals but could never pull off something like this. ‘dirty’ sounds horribly dated only five years later.

chromeo – needy girl

dirty mind-era funk updated for the 00s.  the theme is vintage prince – obsession.

ciara and r.kelly – promise

i was sceptical when i heard the new ciara track sounded like prince. but she does appeared to have transcended her crunk beginnings quite successfully.

egyptian lover – freakaholic

if prince had made a track for a high school prom scene in a john hughes movie…i could see molly ringwald, anthony michael hall and co dancing to this – badly. could also have worked as the soundtrack to the african anteater ritual in can’t buy me love.

entouch – all nite

slinky graffiti bridge era prince ripoff. understated but more soul and less mechanical than the new jack sound that prevailed at the time.

michael jackson – in the closet

so you’re the king of pop, what more could you want? to be the prince, clearly. wacko shouldn’t attempt to be sexy cos we’ve also seen how that turns out. even certified shortarse prince would have looked more natural alongside naomi campbell in that video.

ready for the world – oh sheila

one of the first acts to jack prince’s sound, this lot had clearly done their purple homework. at the time their debut, bar this track, was dismissed as ‘prince-lite’ which will do nicely for me until we get some more unreleased 80s prince material from the vaults.

robin thicke – cherry blue skies

darling nikki meets the greatest song title prince never used for the parade soundtrack. robin sound a bit like camille too.

rythm syndicate – p.a.s.s.i.o.n

what prince might have sounded like if he had been signed to sony in the late 80s. so, a hell of a lot better than most of their artists. 

sterling simms – nasty girl

this would have slotted effortlessly into late 70s disco influenced prince sets.

unklejam – love ya

i’m not sure if any of unklejam are really old enough to have been influenced by prince unless their parents have been playing prince to them since a young age. which is commendable but not quite authentic. we don’t want a situation in ten years time where every new band sounds like watered down prince a la all guitar bands since 1994 and the rolling stones…