dirty martini

old music for new people

the mariah factor November 2, 2008

next week is going to be so funny…i’m glad mariah has stamped her feet and demanded that if she appears, it has to be her theme week. this should sort the wheat from the chaff. if you think mariah oversings, fine, you don’t need to oversing to cover one of her songs. i’ve covered some of mariah’s less shrieky tracks before.

daniel and eoghan in particular will be stuffed, and since the group of finalists have already recorded ‘hero’ simon can’t rescue nauseating eoghan by letting him sing that cheesefest. oh shit, daniel is bound to sing ‘one sweet day’ isn’t he?

american idol’s mariah theme, i seem to remember, unendeared some of the snottier contestants to the voting public, as they acted as if mariah’s songs were beneath them. diana needs to watch her facial expressions – if she goes stroppy teenager she’s gone.

this week the nice thing is some of these suggestions might actually make it.

download mariah week

jls – always be my baby

still loving jls, i hope it’s not true that they can’t win. they should sing ‘one sweet day’ but you know tragedy exploitation expert daniel will wangle that one.

alexandra – we belong together

thank god she already sang ‘i’ll be there’. if they make her sing ‘without you’ instead of this i’ll be really pissed off.

rachel – vision of love

next week is make or break for rachel. it’s about time she got the best ‘singer’s song’ as simon likes to call them.

laura – emotions

it’ll either be really good or really bad. i don’t think she should attempt a ballad.

ruth – can’t let go

ruth needs to get back to what she does best.

diana – dreamlover

even diana can’t bend the rules on an artist theme week. i’m sure dreamlover is whimsical enough…

daniel – one sweet day

yuck…just yuck. but you know it’ll happen.

eoghan – anytime you need a friend

i’d rather the vile, tonedeaf little shit was gone and sang nothing at all.

 

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.

download here

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.

 

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.

 

how do you solve a problem like mariah? August 19, 2007

mariah.jpg 

crazy is as crazy does. watching some of the footage of leona lewis on youtube has inspired this post. she was clearly influenced by early mariah – the shy girl with the big voice who dressed mostly in black and had curly hair to die for.

the fact that she became infinitely more successful in a global sense once she lost the plot and started squeezing herself into clothes three sizes too small is a worry. early mariah blows mad mariah out of the water as far as i’m concerned. she was real and had humility. 

she has bounced back remarkably well from her 2001 nervous breakdown and even seems to be relearning the fine art of putting on clothes that fit. whatever you thought of glitter, i found it to be her most honest work to date. clearly mariah loves the old skool and this shone through the soundtrack.

in the uk, we have been fans of her remixes but less so of her ballads. we’re less tolerant of oversinging and melisma than the US. so when she brought out a collection of remixes it was something i had expected for a while. its never really been cool to own a mariah cd since music box but her remixes are undeniable.

here are some rare tracks and some that newer fans might not be familiar with.

twelve mariah tracks under the radardownload here

weakness of the body

a mid 80s demo that sounds like something taylor dayne might have recorded. i actually like her early vocals, and she doesn’t really sound that young.

someday

always my favourite track from her debut and i loved this new jack swing mix.

sent from up above

amazing midtempo track that i appreciate better now i’m older. apparently there is another album’s worth of unreleased material from her debut recording sessions.

prisoner

mariah rapping? nothing new. this sounded pretty bad at the time but is now pleasingly retro.

to be around you

one of the best tracks on ’emotions’ that often gets overlooked as it sounds so 1991.

now that i know

another housey uptempo that gets glossed over. this, and the track before, were not quite enough for the dancefloor and too bouncy to chill to.

do you think of me

this was a music box era b-side and again it does sound very early 90s. crashing instruments and general moodiness.

always be my baby

for some reason i didn’t pay much attention to this when it was first released but now i love it. there is a youtube clip of leona lewis singing this in a karaoke competition back in 2004. i don’t see the huge problem with leona ‘copying’ early mariah. we need more artists like that, rather than more beyonce clones.

underneath the stars

as i didn’t have the daydream album, i didn’t hear this track until later. its very relaxed vocal for mariah

long ago

moody hiphop track.

slipping away

well, i didn’t originally realise that this wasn’t on daydream…i wonder why not? i definitely prefer her midtempo to ballads.

breakdown

funny that destiny’s child are thought to have invented speedsinging about a year after mariah released this track…hmm.