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

 

everybody loves leona April 11, 2008

so leona has cracked the US, big time. i’m pleased for her and now I see why her album contains so many ballads. their cheese radar is lower than that of the endlessly critical brits, perhaps…and some people find ballads cheesy. leona does them well though.

so whilst ‘spirit’ is good quality, there’ll be plenty of time for a mature sound later on. now that she’s cemented her popularity for the foreseeable future, she really needs to nail the pop/r&b crossover next time. anyway, since leona’s second album must be a sure thing by now I was wondering how it’ll turn out. so, these are the types of songs that I’d like to hear from her.

download here

aaliyah – hot like fire

leona has the right tone to her voice to copy aaliyah’s style but has much more range, so it would be interesting…

adriana evans – looking for your love

this type of sweet, live instrumental track would be a good personality fit for leona, who appears to have won over the US and UK public with her sweet, down to earth manner. i’m not with those who translate this into a lack of personality – if she was delivering witty asides to camera, that would be fake.

amerie – crush

this would have been a cute track for leona. for whatever reason amerie continue to flop, maybe leona could take this off her hands…

brownstone – if you love me

no point having that vocal capability if you’re not going to show it off?

juicy – sugar free

in fact she did record an updated version of this called ‘suga sweet’ pre-x factor, and it’s not bad. midtempo 80s soul would be a nice contrast with her voice.

mariah carey – we belong together

in a way, ‘better in time’ is her ‘we belong together’. but another one won’t hurt. maybe she should keep it back for her third album.

prince – if i was your girlfriend

some princespiration won’t go amiss…why not, everyone else is doing it. if leona’s going to shake off her good girl image, she should go classic, not sleaze.

keisha white – open like so

leona will need to do sass at some point. not in a trashy beyonce style, or man-bashing late 90s jittery r&b, but something a bit more direct. like this.

kelly rowland – can’t nobody

i see this as the type of club track leona might do – not too aggressive or desperately current, just something that works.

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

leona and lemar. please.

shola ama – you’re the one i love

this was the song that i remember shola for the most, not sure if it was her biggest hit but it was the perfect balance between pop and r&b. but in the 90s, for a uk artist, this was about as r&b as it got.

swv – weak

if leona sticks with some ballads, I would love to see her tackle some 90s style slow jams.

 

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.

 

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.