dirty martini

old music for new people

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.

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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.

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saucer of milk? April 5, 2008

you know how your parents used to say people who were nasty to were just jealous? turns out most of the time they were right.

female celebs are always under pressure to comment on their counterparts, and the latest under attack is leona lewis. well she’s talented, pretty, unassuming, has simon cowell on her side…and is from a reality show. which is so much worse than being from a stage school, apparently.

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beyonce – back up

where do we start? letoya, latavia, farrah, michelle, keke wyatt and blu cantrell might all have something to say about this diva’s behaviour. although letoya probably owes her second album to those who wanted to see the queen bee’s feathers ruffled at her former rival’s success. if you’ve seen that clip from trevor nelson’s mtv show ‘the lick’ just after farrah and michelle joined, you know jay-z better watch his humps if those wedding rumours are true.

britney spears – gimme more

it’s britney, bitch. actually she’s a remarkably clever (bear with me) bitch. her girlish war of words with rival christina aguilera, fuelled by a mutual desire for then-curly disaster justin, left christina with egg on her face and branded a boyfriend-baiting bitch. despite having a technically better voice, people seem to prefer a drugged up, fat, scruffy, medicore brit than the desperately showboating and cleaned up ms aguilera. gutted, much?

christina aguilera – hurt

she had the better voice but britney got there first, in more ways than one. in fact, slaguilera is more likely to have criticism directed at her than give it out, and has become the poster girl for oversinging precious r&b wannabes the world over. much as i love r&b myself, kelly osbourne had it spot on. i can just about stand this song as it’s so heavily remixed by the snowflakerz.

jamelia – b.i.t.c.h

you could assume that jamelia recorded this with a sense of humour, in response to fabricated media stories of her various lashings of any female celebrity better looking or more talented than herself. however, since the release of parent album ‘thank you’, her desperate needling has gone into overdrive…and i’m not blaming her PR anymore. they probably quit by now.

jennifer lopez – ain’t it funny

famously branded madonna a useless singer and actor and claimed gwyneth paltrow only found fame after brad pitt. was snubbed by the macriobiotic twosome at what was probably a really unappetising dinner party. um, didn’t she kind of have a point? on that note, gwyneth was always way too minging for brad and should have known better. jen took their snub and raised them an almost-marriage to one of their exes, ben affleck. fun – loving your style, jen.

leona lewis – the best you never had

has so far maintained her dignity, only venturing that jamelia is ‘insecure’ and made a slight dig at whitney and mariah’s continued wearing of fur. she clearly has mariah rattled, who seems eager to communicate that no one in america is talking about leona. except, she’s number one and everyone is? well, mariah does also believe that she’s 12 years old so…whatever…it’s 1982 and everything’s lovely.

lily allen – smile

gently baits her chat show guests in her smug, cockney-with-more-cash-than-you manner, when not singing about her chav boyfriends. baited other serial slagger cheryl cole on the use of autotune in girls aloud. like, no shit, lily, we didn’t see popstars the rivals. and your singing voice lily, really could do with it as well?

mariah carey – heartbreaker

ironically depicted herself as two sides of a catfight in the video for this track after a war of words with both whitney and madonna. claimed not to have ‘taken any notice of anything madonna did since the early 80s, when she was popular’. well i have my thoughts on the exact time and place madonna should have taken a bow, but come on, you can’t ignore the leotard loving granny.

miss jones – don’t front

this lady (and i do use the term loosely) has pissed off *deep breath* beyonce, her scary looking mama, christina milian, danity kane, p diddy, monica, wendy williams (!)…asian people everywhere, victims of the tsunami…

whitney houston – my name is not susan

used to elegantly sidestep any opportunities to bitch about her contemporaries but, hasn’t been interviewed much post-drugs. i’d like to hear what velour tracksuited ‘hell to the naw’ whitney could unleash on the young generation.

 

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

 

cool britannia January 5, 2008

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watching ruby turner on jools holland the other day was further proof of the abundance of underappreciated talent we have in the uk.

this is a selection of new and old uk talent, worth investigating.

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terri walker -flirtin’

sadly, terri will at best be underrated in the beverly knight tradition for the rest of her career. her three albums are ten times better than anything mya has ever put out…

soul ii soul – love enuff

new age funksters who retained their peace and love vibe well into the mid 90s when everyone else had given up.

loose ends – choose me

those that know revere loose ends as the 80s soul band to end them all.

five star – rsvp

family group who turned out to have more in common with jacksons than we thought possible – a veritable mountain of plastic surgery. this song is from their first album, when they had their own noses and steadman didn’t look like a circus freak.

light of the world – no1 girl

named themselves after a kool and the gang album, and had several hits. after splitting in 1981 some members went on to form beggar&co, who also had some success.

heatwave – super soul sister

ok only the keyboardist was british, the band was in fact, international. heatwave were responsible for standard ‘always and forever’ and countless 70s funk gems.

cool notes – i forgot

originally part of the young south london lovers’ rock scene, then a jheri soul success, by uk standards, with several top ten hit.

central line – you’ve said enough

another success, and singer camelle hinds is still active.

leona lewis – suga sweet

a pre-fame remake of juicy’s 1985 jheri soul hit ‘ sugar free’. some more midtempos like this would have sat well on ‘spirit’…i hope she gets back to this style for her second album. leona had the biggest selling uk album of 2007 so even in this uncertain era for the music industry, this hopefully means a sophomore effort is a dead cert!

celetia – special

the uk’s answer to brandy and aaliyah in the 90s – sadly without the success but happily without the drama. this was from her second album, ‘runaway skies’.

shola ama – who’s loving my baby

still waiting on that comeback, shola. and sister sadie’s debut for that matter….what’s going on ladies? shola had the biggest selling r&b album in the uk, of all time.

lemar – fresh

things have also gone a bit quiet on the lemar front, after three successful albums. apparently a radio DJ in barbados mistakenly announced his name was ‘lemar bedingfield’  and now the population, or at least those listening, now believe he is related to those tiresome, delusional big-toothed horrors….as if!

 

x factor 2007:back to the day job December 1, 2007

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 now, i love the x factor but this year it’s going downhill. finding someone as talented as leona lewis was always going to be a problem but something is seriously wrong here. i can barely watch what’s going to happen.

simon is staking his claim on an unlikely spice girls reunion induced girlband fever and the high school musical cashcow rather than credibility this year. louis is doing that odd rocking backwards and forwards thing again which makes him look like an outpatient on bingo leave. sharon’s frustration at the vote fixing is bubbling over for anyone to see. dannii is clearly trying to rise above the unspoken criticism that she’s in no position to judge anyone’s singing ability.

they tried to turn this series into american idol – so much so, hell, why not call it a season. the four judges sit there, knowing that brian friedman, the allegedly straight choreographer has screwed the acts up so entirely with his ludicrous performance direction that they can’t concentrate. but they can’t say anything, see, cos he’s playing along with this whole charade that he decided to step down from the judge’s panel himself. if they place the decline of this year’s x factor squarely at his feet, as well they might, he’ll sing like a canary. a really camp one.

most of these acts have already gone but i hope and pray for a wildcard week. forget lady shiverz and the fact that alisha was given bum songs apart from ‘valerie’. forget that rhydian is essentially a novelty act. forget that hope are sorely needed to relieve those queues back in primark. forget the fact that niki appears to have gone a bit doolally. forget the fact that simon is running out of non-incestuous songs for same difference. we need to start over.

in reality, i don’t really care about any of the acts who are left but i suppose i would prefer niki to win, of anyone. and this is what they should sing:

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alisha should sing…tracy chapman – fast car

kimberley should sing…tina arena – show me heaven

emily should sing…amerie – crush

futureproof should sing…after 7 – nights like this

hope should sing…mary jane girls – in my house

same difference should sing…rihanna and chris brown – umbrella

beverley should sing…gladys knight – if i were your woman

niki should sing…wendy moten – come in out of the rain

old faceless bloke who thinks he’s james blunt…hall and oates – rich girl

leon should sing…stevie wonder – knocks me off my feet

rhydian should sing…barry manilow – weekend in new england

young faceless bloke who think’s he’s james blunt…savage garden – to the moon and back

 

90s r&b girl bands: no hit wonders November 17, 2007

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how many girl groups did en vogue inspire?

don’t even go there with that spice girls theory. watching them on tv tonight was slightly embarrassing. the spice girls emerged before reality tv laid the music industry bare. three of them would have been lucky to make it into girls aloud and the thought of any of them competing against leona lewis is cringeworthy.

however you feel about reality music tv, it does give you the opportunity to create careers for genuine talent. its just that some people distribute their vote using the same principles as they might donate their spare change to charity and vote for losers like michelle mcmanus and taylor hicks.

there should be a reality show for anonymous ex boy and girl band members…simon!

check the a list

b list

and c list

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1 of the girls – do da what

this cleveland group helped then-fledgling producer gerald levert jump on the new jill swing bandwagon driven by swv and jade – and then he fell off.

bitches with problems – two minute brother

not exactly the classiest group on this list, these girls tried to outdo the boys and its not much of a surprise that their two albums sunk. their short lived time in the spotlight did launch one career however – this track’s video was the first from uber director hype williams.

cleopatra – come and get me

brummie poppets who became very famous, very quickly and disappeared in a puff of smoke, possibly quite literally, as disney was involved. middle sister and lead singer cleopatra is set to release a solo project imminently

eve – groove of love

that’s eve as in ebony vibe everlasting not as in eve the slightly butch rapper. ebony vibe everlasting…good god…sometimes the 90s were just a bit too worthy.

ghost town djs – my boo

miami bass tune which was so unlike anything else at the time. the ghost town dj’s were actually the producers – who were the girls?

good 2 go – never satisfied

new jill swing group from LA who were – gasp – white. perhaps they would have fared better fifteen years on as back in 1992, no one quite got them.

the gyrlz – if it’s games you’re playing

the gyrlz were terri, monica and tara. later the group became a duo after tara left, and has minor success throughout the 90s. the gyrlz debut and only cd is ultra rare and worth £ on ebay if you can track it down.

jazzyfatnastees – the lie

you can hardly call this duo a girl band in the traditional sense, rather, they’re here to demonstrate a different approach. more focus on lyrics than style and club bangers.

phajja – so long

late 90s girl band, no distinguishing features. still, the internet was live and kicking and they did in fact release two albums so the lack of info and availability of their music is a shame…

pure soul – wait for you

many people remember music channel mainstay ‘we must be in love’…and that’s it.

shades – serenade

classier girl group who rose from the ashes of new jill swing.

terri and monica – intentions

the sequel to ‘the gyrlz’ minus one member. i remember their music being critically acclaimed but success was still not forthcoming.

 

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.

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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.