dirty martini

old music for new people

2008: the newcomers January 3, 2009

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2008 was not only a year of comebacks but a year when, contrary to the declining viability of the music industry as a means by which to make an above average living, new artists emerged and those waiting in the wings made their debut.

and nkotb have been gone so long they count as a new act in my book.

these are my favourites of 2008.

download 2008 newcomers

candy hill – head gone

don’t know much about these girls. teairra mari featuring on this track is interesting. she might be better off joining them than trying to relaunch her solo career. i miss the days of tlc, swv and xscape.

jazmine sullivan – need you bad

have been hearing about this girl for a few years now. it seems like she had a failed contract a few years back which explain why there are so many tracks floating around that aren’t on the album.

jennifer hudson – all dressed up in love

i wonder if jennifer can ever really recover from what has happened, i don’t know. she was great in ‘sex and the city’ and i expect her to push forward with the acting now moreso than the music. somehow i think she will feel that is more appropriate and the accompanying promotional activity will be less about her and more about the characters.

karina pasian – 16 at war

born in 1991 – eek! not a typical def jam artist and i mean that as a compliment. her debut ‘first love’ didn’t exactly set the world alight but she has plenty of time and it was no reflection on the quality of the music.

michelle williams – unexpected

michelle’s mainstream debut was hotly anticipated as a the album to finally shut down beyonce or a damp squib depending on which camp you fell into. as it is, she didn’t even outsell kelly rowland.

nkotb – 2 in the morning

not strictly new artists, and would never have seen the light of day if they had been, truth be told. this was the track from ‘the block’ that showed their progression. i’m going to see them later this month…i will try to exercise some restraint but can’t promise anything.

santogold – shove it

seems to get a bit narky when labelled a hiphop/r&b artist. she isn’t, and i don’t care for most of her music but i liked this reggae track since i heard it on C4’s Transmission.

solange – sandcastle disco

sol-angel? nothing really that angelic about having a baby at 17, if we’re being picky. if beyonce had released this album, however, everyone would have lapped it up. it’s much better than her own.

stephanie mckaye – this letter

not to be confused with stephanie kay, wildchild of degrassi junior high. i wonder how many people reading this are old enough to get that…anyway, i hadn’t heard of her until her second album ‘tell it like it is’ dropped in 2008. kind of retrosoul/neo-soul fusion.

uness – woman got culture

his official arrival is taking forever…i could have put him on this list for the last few years. is it the state of the music industry or something else? how next selection can rush out a weak artist like cassie but sit on uness is beyond me.

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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

 

sex and the city: girls on film March 8, 2008

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just over 3 months. ok…well i’ve been so busy at work that this is my first post in three weeks so maybe three months will also fly?

i’m going to summarise all the rumours concerning what actually happens in the movie.

  • big – real name john james preston, apparently – leaves carrie at the altar
  • steve cheats on miranda
  • charlotte and harry have their own baby
  • samantha gets itchy feet
  • samantha and smith are now living in LA
  • big dies

no sign of aidan, berger or the russian. but, don’t steve and aidan still co-own that bar? it wouldn’t be insane if he turned up again. maybe jennifer hudson, as carrie’s assistant louise, plays a bigger part than we think?

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702 – where my girls at

aaliyah – ladies in the house

cool notes – girls night out

destiny’s child – girl

destiny’s child – hey ladies

j holiday – new york girl

jade – out with the girls

justin timberlake – sexy ladies

klymaxx – meeting in the ladies room

moments and whatnauts – girls

switch – calling all girls

willie walker jr – watching the ladies

 

sex and the city: soundtrack season six December 26, 2007

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almost five more months to wait for the movie. i’m not used to waiting so long for things these days…once upon a time a may release in the US meant we would be lucky to see the movie before the end of the year.

at the end of the series we saw each girl coupled up. love harry, love big, love smith. i like steve but have trouble with the idea that miranda would pass up blair underwood for a speccy barman from brooklyn, even if he is the father of her child.

i wonder if the film will pull out all of the stops? will we see the return of aidan, berger (god no), the russian (bleurgh), trey, robert and richard? will stanford and his boy candy still be together? will natasha turn up to ruin carrie and big’s chances?

so many questions…and i am so looking forward to jennifer hudson as carrie’s assistant. inspired casting there.

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a man called adam – yachts

audio lotion – jacuzzi jazz

deep area – mad love for ya

fila brazillia – dna

mc solaar – la belle et le bad boy

moby- jam for the ladies

nickodemus- cleopatra in new york

organic audio – good to go

paul oakenfold – ready steady go

source – you got the love

tao of groove – prelude no1

tina turner – proud mary

tommy guerrero – falling awake

u2 – even better than the real thing

zero 7 – polaris / in the waiting line

 

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

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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.

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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.

 

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.

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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.