dirty martini

old music for new people

american redneck idol May 23, 2008

i can barely be bothered to watch the american idol final on itv2 tonight now that i know snoozefest david cook has won.  ooh lets kills every assigned song with exactly the same grunge rock arrangement. how clever.

grandparent favourite david archuleta was obviously not a hugely better prospect but at least he wasn’t a throwback to the early 90s unless you think the fact that he was born in 1990 qualifies that comparison. neither of them are a leona, hell, they’re not even a jordin sparks. i’m even going to go out on a limb here and say i preferred carrie unde-robot-wood and taylor ‘father ted’ hicks.

god i just didn’t really care that much about any of the contestants after chikezie went. he peaked too early with ‘i believe to my soul’. i liked syesha but she clearly wasn’t as good as similar artists from previous years, like vonzell a few years back.

do kids still listen to complaint rock? seriously? i didn’t believe it in the 90s and i don’t believe it now. scenes of kids jumping up and down on their bed playing air guitar are always the most unrealistic elements of any movie or tv show for me, and I didn’t know anyone who did that.

at least we had a few who were enjoyably shit keeping up the sanjaya malakar/that stupid marine/jasmine trias tradition. that er, jason er…dreads bloke, clinched the cringe of the ‘season’ with his double bob marley massacre. jason castro, just looked it up. kristy lee cook was unenjoyably shit. brooke white looked like a little old alien, like gail from corrie…

doubtless there will be another ‘season’ so here are some of the better performances from the last 6 years…

ruben studdard – a whole new world

latoya london – somewhere

elliot yamin – if you really love me

tamyra gray – a house is not a home

chikezie eze – i believe to my soul

jennifer hudson – weekend in new england

mario vasquez – do i do

lakisha jones – and i am telling you

anwar robinson – what’s going on

mandisa – i don’t hurt anymore

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soul power couples: the classics October 23, 2007

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duets don’t always work. i think simon cowell is about to find this out to his detriment – ‘same difference’ the icky brother and sister act on this year’s x factor are not going to resonate with a nation that just finds these things a bit, well…creepy.  what was that simon? you think they’ll capture the ‘high school musical’ market? make that ‘flowers in the attic’.

not as creepy as ‘two to go’ though, from x factor 2004. i haven’t got over that yet. psychopathic nursing home worker tries to carve career from exploitation of blind gareth gates-alike brother. ewwww.

if you bring together two equally talented, non-related singers however, the results can be spectacular. witness.

download here

bill medley and jennifer warnes – the time of my life

dirty dancing, like grease before it, will outlive us all. the soundtrack, and this song in particular, made the film the success it was. and made enough cash to get jennifer grey that ill-advised nose job…hope that ‘friends’ cameo paid well.

carla thomas and otis redding – tramp

much sampled classic – many female singers in the 60s paled in comparison to the commerical power of the supremes and undeniable talent of aretha. and otis is just otis and he died too young.

cherrelle and alexander o’neal – never knew love like this

whitney’s partner-in-crack cherrelle was once a respectable soul singer albeit only really famous for her collaborations with alex. who is slightly ‘eccentric’ himself as i recall from his bizarre participation in ‘just the two of us’ in which he duetted with a dumpy newsreader for the entertainment of the british public. someone really needs to stop the bbc making musical reality shows.

diana ross and lionel richie – endless love

i never got the whole diana ross thing. she is not a great singer. that dreamgirls storyline must have hit her where it hurts. i always wanted to see this film based on the song though.

janet jackson and luther vandross – best things in life are free

i may have forgotten the plot of the film ‘mo money’ to which this was the lead soundtrack, but i can remember this being played on a loop in the summer of 1992 at a very out of control house party.

judy clay and william bell – private number

another 60s duo who found themselves overshadowed. these two were on stax, not motown. which was way cooler.

mary j blige and kci hailey – i don’t want to do anything

mary’s problems didn’t start with her relationship with kci, but they did seem to begin to resolve themselves once she extricated herself. as ever, trying times can equal good music. people who say they wish mary would get messed up again so she can produce better music are wrong though.

roberta flack and donny hathaway – the closer i get to you

a whole album to choose from but the simplicity of this song is what makes it so special. that and donny hathaway, who could sing the bus timetable and stop me being pissed off that there’s only a bus ‘every 15-19 minutes’.

sheena easton and prince – u got the look

prince clearly saw a niche for scottish reality tv stars. especially those shorter than him – he doesn’t collaborate with just anyone. oh wait, he sort of does. carmen electra anyone?

the sos band and alexander o’neal – the finest

not sure how this came about? an early bootleg? i don’t remember him being on the original. he probably doesn’t either…cough…is he still wandering up and down kilburn high road looking confused?

syreeta and billy preston – with you i’m born again

this song is one of my earliest memories. it has that classic late 70s combination of plaintive harmonies,  and smooth vocals.

tammi terrell and marvin gaye – you’re all i need to get by

marvin and tammi were a much better match talentwise than marvin and insipid diana ross.

 

let battle commence September 16, 2007

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wow, looking at this autumn’s release schedule you’d think people still bought cds. i’m joking…

 anyway, here are some of the more anticipated albums due over the next few months.

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leona lewis – bleeding love

album due november

well, this isn’t going to halt those mariah comparisons, and it’s a canny move much like mariah’s debut ‘vision of love’. midtempo, not too r&b, not too MOR, not too pop. i think she’s done the right thing, and watching the new series of the x factor, and hearing them say they’re looking for someone even better than leona this year could prove tricky.

mya -walka not a talka

album due…who cares?

apparently some people still care about mya’s album getting pushed back for the hundredth time. why? she’s crap. she can’t sing and even lumidee has had better songs than this. she’s a hook singer, at best, or perhaps a victoria beckham. as in, the one who doesn’t get to sing much in a group with at least four others.

teedra moses – take my love away

album due…once you’ve forgotten her real age

i really like teedra moses but i just checked her wiki and it says she was born in 1980. um, i remember reading that she was born in 1973 like her ex-husband, and then elsewhere that her management try to cover up her age, hence the delay in this album. must be annoying when they are people like me with an eye for detail.

keyshia cole – shoulda let you go

album due…late september

i like keyshia. i don’t think she’s the greatest singer but i do get the mary comparisons. the only criticism i would put forward is that so far her material doesn’t appear to have moved on that much. not necessarily a bad thing.

craig david – 6 of 1 thing

album due november

at one point it looked like bo selecta had killed his career but craig is back looking better than ever. the collaboration with kano won’t hurt. he appears to have stopped referring to himself in the third person as well. which is why avid merrion picked on him in the first place no doubt. i did laugh a lot at that ”wack’ is american for ‘shit” line…

alicia keys – no one

album due november

well, ‘no one’ is both vintage alicia and also a slight departure in terms of vocals, so its the best of both worlds so far. she’s going to sell whatever as she’s tapped into most markets, and inhabits that rare space of cool and commercial.

ashanti – you can’t deny it

album due december

irv gotti’s recent revelations and the resulting fallout may push this back further. clearly she’s keeping schtum so the inc don’t let her flop. i don’t understand the hatred some feel towards ashanti, she’s just kind of there. been in the right places at the right time i suppose.

chilli – gliding

album due january

why someone like chilli would need akon to steer her career is beyond me. in a sea of faceless, talentless r&b girls, I’m sure someone with a tlc pedigree and a usher-related story to tell could find a better deal. luckily it turns out none of it was true. she is getting on a bit now though.

d’angelo – really love

album due ?????

anything from d’angelo is welcome. the downside of the digital age is that so many quality artists struggle and have to wait so long for some backing. by the way, maxwell’s record label, i’m walking to you too.

jennifer hudson – special

album due early 2008

well ok this one has been pushed back too but she has been slightly busy. can’t wait for the satc movie. time will tell whether her big personality draws her into more and more film roles and away from the recording studio. and as she blew away beyonce in dreamgirls, i wouldn’t fancy the chances of anyone releasing at the same time.

jill scott – hate on me

album due late september

i like the bigger sound she’s going for here. the laidback neo soul is nice but this sounds fresher. i wonder what made jill more successful than angie stone in the end? both are on a level talentwise but jill seems to have come out on top.

lauryn hill – lose myself

album due…about 8 years ago

ok so she didn’t want to do another ‘miseducation’ and that’s her choice. creative and personal freedom is all very well and good but she doesn’t exactly look happy as the freakshow she’s turned into. don’t hold your breath, judging by this track it might not be worth it anymore.

mariah carey – love

album due november

well, how to follow the career saving ‘mimi’? hooking back up with longtime collaborators bone thugs’n’harmony is a start. i don’t doubt the album will be quality, i just hope she continue to keep the ballads to a minimum. and starts to acknowledge the fact that she’s pushing 40 and puts on some clothes and stops singing about ‘boys’.

teairra mari – missing you

album due…when she gets a deal?

better than rihanna in most respects, she fell down on likeability. jay-z totally misread the market on this one – disliked by parents as a bad influence, feared by her peer group as more experienced and annoyed the fuck out of those older and wiser by acting like she knew it all. she can sing though and with the right image and material should make a comeback.

trey songz – wonder woman

album due october

trey occupies an interesting space as a bad boy with eloquence. hopefully this contradiction in marketing terms can be overcome as his debut was solid but flopped badly.

 

reality: the UK vs the US August 23, 2007

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reality tv has come a long way since hearsay and kelly clarkson. so, these are some of the best acts to emerge from popstars, pop idol, the x factor and american idol. you can also check out more acts to emerge from these shows.

download here

shayne ward -if that’s ok with you

best live performance – a million love songs (take that)

back in 2005, it wasn’t just hysterical 14 year olds voting for shayne, the entire female uk population, my mum and sharon osbourne included, had ward fever. he beat out more talented acts to be crowned winner of the x factor, but I have to say he’s grown on me. well, he is cute. started his career with drippy ballads but this soon to be released song shows he’s moving in a more interesting direction now, capitalising on the diverse vocal styles he displayed during the live shows.

anton gordon – hot romance

best live performance – cherish (kool and the gang)

where is anton? only this one track in five years? rumour has it he was turned away from this year’s x factor auditions. itv claim he just didn’t make the grade but the truth is they were embarrassed that they let pete waterman massacre his career after popstars: the rivals. one true voice was a shambles. poor old anton put in amazing performances week in week out only to be marginalised within a cheesy boyband singing bee gees covers. i could weep…and on the night he sang cherish i nearly did.

leona lewis – paradise

best live performance – i have nothing (whitney houston)

tough to pick one but this was the night i knew she’d win. leona blew us away last year in the x factor, and it was hard not to get overexcited. was she better than the girls of american idol? in some cases yes, in others, just different. american idol does belters a la mandisa and lakisha but leona is a more diverse vocalist. i can’t think of a comparative idol contestant but roxanne of pop idol in the uk comes close, albeit with much less range.

liberty x – jumpin’

best live performance….

er, i can’t remember any of their individual performances on popstars. but liberty x had some decent songs, firstly by riding the uk garage wave and then with neptunes inspired efforts like this. ok so in order to stay in the limelight they also covered a hell of a lot of big 80s soul songs like got to have your love, night to remember, ain’t nobody…can’t hurt right?

lemar – dance with you

best live peformance – let’s stay together (al green)

so far the most successful of the uk’s reality stars, along with girls aloud. lemar didn’t even win the dull and worthy fame academy but he’s the only contestant most people can remember from all three series. david sneddon anyone? thought not. in some ways, lemar has found it easier to disassociate himself than he might have done from pop idol or the x factor. both of which he could have won, no contest.

javine – surrender

best live performance – i’m every woman (chaka khan)

javine shrugged off initial public rejection to make a reasonably successful debut but slid into eurovision. as if any further depths could be plunged, whilst in daddy cool she made off with married co-star, harvey so solid. his wife, alesha dixon of girl band misteeq, has rightly used every opportunity to wreak public vengeance. then gobshite jamelia called her a slut on tv. pot. kettle. file this comeback under ‘unlikely’.

ruben studdard – sorry 2004

best live performance – a whole new world (peabo bryson)

how could anyone not love the velvet teddy bear? the confusion on ruben’s face as he took reviews from the judges on his perfomance each week was priceless. it was all so effortless for him. he hasn’t blown up yet but i think he’s more of a thirtysomething artist anyway. i can’t even believe clay aiken was a serious contender…ick. surely the most unattractive idol contestant ever – like ian beale in makeup.

latoya london – appreciate

best live performance – somewhere (west side story)

i don’t really like fantasia’s quacking vocals. for me, latoya was more talented and far classier, if not such a compelling performer. she could have been in the final another year. i’ve yet to find a better version of somewhere and so hers is the one i listen to.

elliot yamin – alright

best live performance – a song for you (donny hathaway)

i love him – chocolate, honey and vanilla wrapped up in one smooth voice. whilst soul purists may have balked at the idea, to me, elliot singing a donny hathaway song was inspired. how bland, gawky katherine mcphee and father ted impersonator taylor hicks beat him out to the final, i will never know. the proof will be in the longevity.

nikko -hot like summer

best performance – can we talk (tevin campbell)

back in the competition when another contestant dropped out, nikko turned in some great performances before he was eliminated and revived a classic tune from long forgotten r&b teen idol tevin campbell. kind of like usher with glasses, minus the stupid dancing.

mario vasquez – i bet

best performance – do i do (stevie wonder)

oh god…when mario performed stevie wonder’s ‘do i do’ in the semi final rounds, it was all over. and then he mysteriously disappeared. that ‘season’ (its a series! my bf yells this at the tv every year) descended into rock and country hell, with  carrie the country robot and throwback rocker bo in the final. 

jennifer hudson – love you i do

best performance – weekend in new england (barry manilow)

elton john vocalised what many people were thinking. it was spot on unlike his current ‘ban the internet’ tirade. how did jen slip under the radar? she totally outshone beyonce in dreamgirls and looking back, should have won that ‘season’. but i have to admit, i didn’t notice her star potential at the time either.