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.

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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.

 

tv heaven November 9, 2008

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tv and music were once an unholy alliance. you didn’t get leona lewis, you got bonnie langford. actors who thought they could sing and songs used in adverts and tv themes populated the charts.

old skool tv tracks

babylon zoo – spaceman

once used in a levi’s ad, forever lodged in a nation’s consciousness. you’d forgotten it? well in 1995, people had forgotten about the jeans. each new ad was notable for the soundtrack and model, with jeans rapidly disappearing off the radar until flat eric and destiny’s child revived them complete with sequins and glitter a few years later.

five star – stay out of my life

a rework of this five star track moonlighted as the theme tune to citv game show ‘how dare you’, variously presented by playschool’s floella benjamin and bucks fizz alumni cheryl baker. it’s a hazy memory but i do remember a lot of gunge being thrown around.

brown sauce – i wanna be a winner

cheggers and soon-to-be but now ex-wife maggie philbin wrongly assumed that their presenting roles on saturday morning tv show the multicoloured swap shop implied any kind of musical talent. so, those of you who thought his career low point was baring his arse on ‘naked jungle’ were wrong. thank god for ‘cheggers plays pop’. i loved that, always wanted the yellows to win and they never did.

marlena shaw – california soul

kfc as soul food? genius. it’s not quite momma cherri’s but as close as a lot of people are going to get. soul food, like mexican and swiss cuisine, is way underrepresented in the UK.

dennis waterman – i could be so good for you

forget little dennis waterman in the little britain sketch, funny though it is. in the 80s, in ‘minder’, dennis was cool. this fell apart roughly around the same time as we found out that minger laura from eastenders was his daughter. you remember, the one who was married to ian beale, and in her 40s, played by someone in their 20s. yep, that minging.

dexy’s midnight runners – because of you

became the theme tune to popular 80s sitcom ‘brush strokes’ featuring the actor who has appeared in mr muscle adverts for the last ten years or so, as jacko. elmo putney and his pink wine bar…what happened to wine bars? in my not very legal drinking years the last few were dying out. this, and the one in ‘only fools and horses’ that del fell over in, are places I would have liked to frequent…for the kitsch value, naturally…

grange hill – just say no

yes, just a few years later on ‘the word’ the cast collided with the early 90s rave scene and undid all that good work…one of my favourite things about watching old grange hill episodes, apart from jackie and zammo, is the accents. no one speaks like that now! i’m not even sure they did then. they’re supposed to be cockneys!

v capri – haunting me

thought angry anderson was bad? this song featured in an episode, i think, where scott and charlene had split, but he raced to a bus station (always a bus station) to stop her moving to brisbane. cue lots of flashbacks of them playing on swings, slides, roundabouts..in other words the cheesiest bit of tv you’re ever likely to see. look it up on youtube.

cathy dennis – irresistable

used in a 1992 sky campaign. pretty sure the only reason it’s embedded in my memory is the fact that i – literally – watched cable for 20 hours a day back then. studs and full house on sky one, on the air with clive pearse on super channel, most wanted with ray cokes…good times.

joey scarbury – believe it or not

possibly the most 80s theme tune ever, from ‘the greatest american hero’. inspired later efforts for ‘cheers’, ‘the golden girls’ and ‘my two dads’.

robin beck – first time

everyone in coke ads was cool. even if they were in the middle of falling over, their first kiss, being hit by a tidal wave, whatever, because they were a) in slow motion and b) had a coke in their hand, the object of their desire still fancied them and they were unflappable. no wonder 80s kids are all in therapy now…

savage garden – truly madly deeply

ah yes, melted chocolate voiced savage garden, were a perfect fit with wet blanket dawson and the other improbably sensitive and articulate river kids. can’t remember if the song actually featured in the series or was just a channel 4 hookup.

 

r&b girl bands: voted off the island April 26, 2008

assuming they were famous enough to get on a reality show in the first place. the 00s have not really been a great time for girl bands. in the late 90s it was a crowded market, full of stage school wannabes thrown together with people they hate and a few genuine girl groups looking to capitalise on the spice trend.

who do we have now? sugababes? girls aloud? tch…

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3lw – feelin’ you

ok not exactly drifting towards obscurity but in music terms, it’s over. interestingly when they debuted in 2000 they were sounding too mature and now in their 20s, they’re disney. counter-intuitive.

411 – on my knees

brit girl band from a few years back. like danity kane but less porn channel and more smtv. fond of hiphop sampling to communicate street credentials.

aaries – strangers to lovers

have collaborated with sir musiq of soulchild and this alone should have raised more interest. add that to the fact that they’re a fairly talented bunch and make quality soul not ringtone r&b and it’s difficult to see where it went wrong.

anjel – not the way i pictured it

after being dumped by beyonce and kelly (ok, beyonce and mathew..), letoya and latavia hooked up with naty quinones and tiffany beaudoin to form short-lived anjel.

bella  – never be me

yet another ‘big on myspace’ act that didn’t translate. see also ‘jazzy’ and ‘unklejam’.

blaque – i’m good

had a not bad run thanks to their mentor, left eye. blaque actually started out ten years ago nowm as blaque ivory. this track is now a staple of show like ‘so you think you can dance’ and ‘bump’n grind’ on trouble.

gyrlfriend – sprung

produced by the underdogs, but it wasn’t enough. their names is so 90s, as well.

her sanity – xclusive

over-produced and silly name. like a budget version of allure.

isyss – not letting him go

including the sister of actress meagan good, this group were quite good and focused on uptempos, which is always a bonus.

js – someone

think changing faces, not updated a great deal, for the 00s. i might have missed something but i don’t recall the original group being so popular that we needed a sequel.

phajja – checkin’ for me

their two albums were actually ok. a bit like brownstone to me. but they nicked a classic album title, ‘meeting in the ladies room’ and this seemed to seal their fate.

tg4 – two minutes

not very tastefully sang about virginity with needa s…yes that old woman once known as smooth. eww. that family are sleaze. lying about their ages and allegedly corrupting kids.

 

show me the money April 18, 2008

this post is self explanatory but i’ll say one thing. those gold diggers are not feeling the credit crunch in the same way as the rest of us. i’m not saying it’s right…

top 5 gold diggers

1. heather mills

didn’t fab-macca-thumbs-aloft blaze a hot publicity trail during the divorce trial? two weeks of beatle songs on american idol, brit appearance…now a liverpool concert.

2. kevin federline

even k-fed was well out of that family, who made even shar jackson look classy by comparison.

3. tameka foster

can you say ‘marriage of convenience’? never been more convinced that usher is gay. this week chilli revealed she still loves him…hmmm…

4. most WAGs

no news there then.

5. meg matthews

surely even monobrow could have done better at the height of oasis’ fame?

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amerie – money maker

big bub – material girl

blu cantrell – hit em up style

cashflow – spending money

destiny’s child – bills bills bills

gwen guthrie – ain’t nothin’ goin’ on but the rent

janice christie – my love is money

junior mafia – get money

kanye west – gold digger

ol’ dirty bastard and kelis – got your money

shades – tell me

tlc- no scrubs

 

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.

 

i’m not planning on going solo… February 11, 2008

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liar!

in every successful group there is a beyonce. either the best vocalist or the best manipulator, or daddy’s little girl. but divas in training beware: for every beyonce, there is a nicole scherzinger.

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beyonce – suga mama

it’s a good job bee actually did have talent cos daddy would have pushed her to the front no matter what. its funny but i actually prefer her voice in the early dc days, and i definitely prefer dc4 harmonies.

bobby brown – i really love you girl

not so much a solo choice rather than being kicked out of new edition. still, he was so young it was a bit like when i was kicked out of the brownies, albeit on a, cough, more global scale. so what? except i was shown the red card for locking brown owl in a cupboard, not boozing and having an illegitimate child…

coko – sunshine

well, who can blame coko if the rumours of swv’s financial ruin were true. it’s a shame it didn’t work out…i think the swv harmonies played a bigger role than she thought.

diana ross – upside down

the original diva, hence ‘diana ross and the supremes’. funny how the weakest singer in a group can overcome that obstacle, to become the biggest star. all it took was a large amount of deluded self-belief and some willing lackeys.

george michael – too funky

the least likely to be accused of letting his ego push aside more talented group members – it was an accepted fact that andrew ridgeley did little more than shake a tambourine and look cute in hawaiian gear.

justin timberlake – last night

anyone who says they saw the star potential of curly headed justin in his n*sync days has selective memory. i was surprised such an ugly group got a deal and didn’t think any had longevity. imagine explaining britney’s dazzling influence to an alien in 2008 – ‘…and britney was this clean cut, wholesome, family loving christian whose star power catapulted him to solo fame…’

lionel richie – serves you right

love lionel richtea. i might have to do a whole post on him just so i can put up that picture. oh screw it, if anyone is wondering why at the top of this post there is a picture of lionel richie with a biscuit (cookie) in place of his ‘fro…this is why.

morris day – love addition

morris day really wanted to be prince. he did ok. he never really left the time.

raphael saadiq – get involved

the transition from tony toni tone was fairly seamless – i’m not always 100% which tracks belong to who. same sound, same voice…could have just kept the other on the payroll? that’s rarely the point though is it…

ray parker jr – a woman needs love

ray already had a touch of the dianas, changing the name of his group, already ‘raydio’, to ‘ray parker jr and raydio’. so no one should have been surprised when he became a fully fledged solo artist. i hope there was someone else called ray left in that group he named after himself…

t-boz – touch myself

tlc’s was a well documented financial struggle, which allegedly saw laface CEO pebbles tie the girls into a fruitless contract. t-boz seized an opportunity to capitalise on crazysexycool but the point was, none of tlc were vocally outstanding, but together they provided contrast – the gravelly voiced t-boz, angelic chilli and cute rapper left eye. individually…nothing special.

terry ellis – what did i do to you

if you blinked in 1995, you could have missed this solo foray from ms ellis. en vogue were back together faster than roadrunner once it became clear that their group appeal far ouweighed their solo potential. they attempted to drop troublemaker dawn robinson over the years, with varying degrees of success.

 

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.