dirty martini

old music for new people

90s boy bands: the smooth selection September 10, 2007

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I already did a post on the anti-boybands of the 90s, that is, those that were successful enough to publicly distance themselves from the tag and make the kind of music they wanted to be associated with.

these boys would probably have run with either tag. they had some success, but would most likely have sold out given a major label opportunity. virtually all of them are now in the wilderness, awol.

and these c listers would have bitten your arm off for a taste of the big time. and these z listers, i wouldn’t like to say

download here

after 7 – can’t stop

slightly girly vocals, but a quality group. never quite bettered this, their first hit. there is a really funny old skool bootleg of this that speeds the vocals up to helium ballooon proportions, called cooking with delia. don’t ask me how i know these things…

damage – love to love

young british band from the mid 90s who were intermittently successful. everyone fancied bad boy coree, who has since been in prison. lead singer jade jones has been going out with spice girl emma bunton for about ten years, and they recently had a new baby.

dru hill – you are everything

i never really got the whole dru hill thing and sisqo, to me, is not attractive and i don’t even think he can sing. that whole thong song thing was ridiculous but did rule the summer of 2000, especially the garage remix. but i did like this track.

intro – let me be the one

fairly successful band in the early 90s – not as successful as blackstreet, not as sugary as boyz ii men and just kind of…there. which was a problem for pretty much all of the groups on this list.

next – butta love

did the whole bad boy thing far more convincingly than dru hill. ‘too close’ was of course huge, and then…i’m not sure if they still record or what?

shai – if i ever

hailed as the new boyz ii men, when they came out with this track. volume of material appeared to be a problem as this was remixed and released many times. i can just about remember two other tracks they did.

silk – hooked on you

i wonder how these groups feel when british boybands like another level take their signature tune (freak me, in this case) and have the hit they never could? i hope they get paid well, but i fear the only person who laughs all the way to the bank is the songwriter.

soul for real – every little thing

after candy rain, many people sat back and waited for a dismal sequel. to be fair, this did almost as well, perhaps better in the uk, and they squeezed out a few more hits form their debut and as far as i know only, album.

today – him or me

riding the new jack swing wave in the very early 90s, but never quite challenged teddy riley supergroup guy.

troop – sweet november

one album wonders, but this is a sweet cover version. have no idea how successful it may or may not have been in the US, but in the UK it did squat.

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the truth about boy bands August 19, 2007

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firstly, i am not a fan of boybands.

but tonight itv1 ran a show about them and i was surprised at how many songs i liked.

and no, i couldn’t bring myself to include northern line, topical or not since ziggy is in the big brother house. i don’t like liars and there is no way on god’s earth that man is only 26. i also haven’t included 911 cos they were too short and i can’t remember even one of their songs. 

i’ve also looked back to put together posts on the original 70s boybands and 80s hair flickers.

lastly, there are no irish boybands of any description as i absolutely cannot stand them.  i don’t like irish pubs either. my idea of hell? basement of an o’neills. low ceiling, limited spirit and cocktail menu and irish bloody dancers kicking me in the shins.

the best of the worstdownload here

bros – i owe you nothing

bros have gained immortality via a classic episode of only fools and horses that saw rodney win a spanish holiday courtesy of a drawing of the arc de triomphe he did at school. whilst pretending to be 14 throughout the holiday in order to keep his prize, he is stalked by a 13 year old bros fan called trudy. and thus, if matt and luke’s music hasn’t stood the test of time, they have cemented their place in history. smash hits, amusingly, used to call the other one ‘ken’ when his name was actually craig.

brother beyond – the harder i try

the only member of this band remotely in the public eye these days is nathan moore. nathan manages desperate lisa scott-lee and her long suffering brother andy. mtv’s totally scott-lee show hilariously saw the agent more in demand than his tragic and talentless client. poor old andy was also in a boy band, 3sl, with his brothers. he’s one of those people you want to do well, but you know never will.

nkotb – the right stuff

the only boy band i ever really loved, jordan in particular, rats tail and all. sadly, some cringeworthy interviews and an incident in which they turned up to going live completely pissed one saturday morning, accelerated their decline. i was 17 by then and was nursing a hangover myself. i had to stop myself hotfooting it to the hard rock cafe a few years back when i heard jordan was going to be there. he seems to have grown up now and so i have i (sort of) but at the time, he was a sorry indication of my taste in men.

take that – pray

when this song was no1, i had to pretend that i hated it as i was in sixth form college and liking take that would be about as bad as admitting you liked noel’s house party. i’d actually met them in a club just before they were famous, and it took me until ‘could it be magic’ to cotton on that it was the same band, as they hadn’t been wearing the leather perv suits on totp. my mum was furious when i told her this recently – not because i had sneaked into a club on a school night but that i had met mark owen and she still hasn’t.

east 17 – deep

again, east 17 did the rounds just before their first hit, and i saw them at a radio one roadshow (remember those??) and thought ‘god, they’re shit.’ and they were, at the time. deep is a great song though – ‘…outside it’s raining, inside it’s wet…’ – and their later reincarnation as essex soul boys was pretty impressive. brian looks like the template from which all chavs were created, but he has a great voice. in recent years he has become something of a comedy figure, like bez of the happy mondays – somehow he nearly ran himself over a year or so ago.

eyc – the way you work it

eyc had this hit and er, maybe a couple of others. they were like color me badd on speed. incidentally, color me badd didn’t make this list as i have posted ‘i wanna sex you up’ before and quite frankly, there’s nothing else going on there.  in fact i’m increasingly convinced that color me badd and eyc are the same group so unless forensic evidence to the contrary is produced, i’ll treat them as such.

mn8 – if you only let me in

it was a toss up between this lot and damage. i just think damage were more of an r&b band. they did a decent cover of earth wind and fire’s ‘after the love has gone’ and i’m not ashamed to have ‘ghetto romance’ on my mp3 player. mn8 had silly hair and were clearly targeted at those not old enough to know better. i wonder where they are now? yahoo answers says ‘probably working in tesco’ and i think that person is probably right.

backstreet boys – as long as you love me

i resisted this song for a good few years but, what can i say, i like it. despite not being very likeable people, with the possible exception of brian, they seem to have a hardcore fanbase of the same intensity of take that. but they are squarely responsible for boosting the career of little brother from hell aaron carter, and for that i can’t quite forgive them. uk people – doesn’t brian look like ashley from corrie?

5ive – when the lights go out

5ive, for a time, were huge. this is not entirely evident as J sits in a shopping mall in milton keynes alongside dane bowers and lisa scott-lee, waiting for people to turn up and pay £10 for an autograph. abs has also tried and failed at a solo career. i can’t remember any of the others. when will these groups get the message that the sum of the parts is not always equal to the collective value? tsk.

n*sync – girlfriend

this was when justin trousersnake as we know him really came into his own. the first (and last) n*sync song that i took any notice of, and i am reliably informed that i should leave it there. as if the curly frightwig and dull relationship with britney hadn’t put me off already. i did hear an effort by jc chasez post-split though. yikes.

another level – i want you for myself

another level were dane bowers (fat rent a gob who milked a one-time collaboration with victoria beckham), bobak…something, the one who looked like andy abraham off the x factor and the one who looked like jamie redknapp. as if this in itself wasn’t enough to warrant chart success, they actually made some decent music. had a bit of a step-up thanks to early collaborations with jay-z and shola ama, and a sassy cover of silk’s ‘freak me’.

blue – if you come back

i did like blue i can’t deny it. like another level before them, they took a big r&b tune (too close by next) and didn’t butcher it, rather stayed true to the original but made it more accessible. something about them just worked and i can’t understand why they split so soon. you want to dislike duncan james but you can’t. lee ryan is the village idiot and therefore always good value. simon webbe just seems like a nice bloke, and anthony costa is…dane bowers post slimfast!

 

mr loverman….shabba! August 11, 2007

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so, i thought i should get this one in sharpish before the weather collapses! 

by the time it was the 90s I was old enough to enjoy my summers unsupervised. ibiza and uk club culture were kicking off and novelty summer records were more likely to be one off pop crossovers from reggae artists than grown men in animal suits. thank GOD.

i haven’t included any of said tracks, as at the time, i wasn’t so keen. now i can appreciate ‘sweat’ by inner circle for its escapist genius, but back then it was part of comedy hour in the dismal local nightclubs i was forced to frequent before i ‘escaped to london’. an oxymoron if i ever heard one. still, i will do a reggae pop post at some point, as an excuse to post ‘shy guy’ by diana king.

 i was 14 in 1990 and 23 in 1999 so the early summers of this decade were spent chasing boys, getting pissed on one can of super strongbow (later archers, then came the alcopops invasion) and trying to secure myself as much time in the sun as possible. late 90s,  trying to wangle time outside the office when it was hot and being pissed off at those tinted office windows that make you think its cloudy, until you go outside at lunchtime and realise its blazing. i seem to remember the weather being pretty good most years. not as steaming hot as 2006, but hot enough and sunny, not humid.

don’t laugh at the glenn medeiros track – bobby negates any cheese factor, and anyway, glenn is hawaiian and therefore IS summer. st etienne are a dancey indie act but i love this tune – 1991 was balearic its pointless trying to avoid that fact. the janet and luther track is the r&b soundtrack version which didn’t see the light of day in the UK. the version of ‘dreamlover’ i’ve posted is a r&b remix that was overshadowed at the time by the huge david morales house remix. and the lighthouse family track is also a funkier remix, not the plodding original. enjoy!

 the sounds of summer in the 90s – download here

1990 – bobby brown and glenn medeiros – she ain’t worth it

1991 – st etienne – only love can break your heart

1992 – janet jackson and luther vandross – the best things in life are free

1993 – mariah carey – dreamlover

1994 – joe – i’m in luv

1995 – lighthouse family – ocean drive

1996 – ll cool j and total – loungin’

1997 – puff daddy, mase and notorious big – mo money mo problems

1998 – next – too close

1999 – destiny’s child – jumpin jumpin

 

yuppie soul…for wannabes and estate agents alike July 13, 2007

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yuppies were everywhere in the late 80s. inspired by wall street and dressed by armani. or more likely, next, in fact i think the blame for the continuing success of next and its unflattering, boxy clothes can be laid squarely at the feet of the yuppie movement.

think del boy falling over in an underground wine bar trying to impress snooty trophy wives while hapless trigger looks on in his blue suit. being the average man on the street, never mind the underdog, was not a celebrated thing in the late 80s. my parents knew someone who aspired to be a yuppie. if he held a barbecue, it was a ‘dinner party’ by virtue of the fact that he would provide a musical backdrop of ‘now thats what i call classical music’. the fact that he worked at asda didn’t hold him back – he assumed the look, the lifestyle and the self delusion.

it’s sad to watch the ex-yuppies now, especially those that were young at the time. they cling desperately to their trench coats and briefcases, and we don’t invite them out for after work drinks. unless we want them to pay.

dodgy, drab fashion and buck teeth aside, the most hilarious part of the yuppie image was the mobile phone. or the brick, as its now commonly known. not dissimilar to lugging around your own portable phone box, and requiring an antenna that would spear anyone within fifty feet.

it’s no surprise that some of the soul artists that broke through at this time were white, and very middle of the road. they were reflective of the audience. the music was criticised as manufactured and lacking in grit, but its a hell of a lot better than most of the crap we’re forced to endure today. ‘pop’ does mean ‘popular’ after all…

smooth wine bar grooves for the upwardly mobile – download here

al jarreau – we’re in this love together

alexander o’neal – hearsay

sade – hang on to your love

mica paris and will downing – where is the love

luther vandross – give me the reason

whitney houston – you give good love 

lisa stansfield – live together

simply red – a new flame

wet wet wet – angel eyes

tracy chapman –  fast car

terence trent d’arby – if you let me stay

michael bolton – soul provider