dirty martini

old music for new people

2008: the comebacks January 3, 2009

cd

despite declining sales, labels continued to throw money and effort into album promotion instead of finding new and creative ways to make money from music. which is now basically free, let’s face it.

i enjoyed these the most of all the comebacks last year.

download the comebacks of 2008

anthony hamilton – the day we met

consistent and underrated, anthony hamilton’s new album ‘the point of it all’ is a little more punchy, i think, than his previous efforts. it’s worth seeking out his mostly unknown 1996 debut if you like this side of him.

ashanti – you’re gonna miss

ashanti is that girl who has more male friends than female. she gets a lot of hate, but, she delivers some good music. ‘the declaration’ was a solid effort that would have achieved more had it not been for her audience connection issue mentioned previously, and the state of the music industry.

beyonce – single ladies

well, if you thought ‘bday’ was a disappointment…i’m hoping some of the other tunes on ‘i am…sasha fierce’ will grow on me. there’s nothing groundbreaking there though. i did love the fact that she appeared on x factor to sing with alexandra though. who, by the way, i think outsings her on ‘listen’ when she sings solo.

common – sex 4 sugar

common is taking a more commercial route this time round with ‘universal mind control’. that’s ok, it works.

erykah badu – honey

..speaking of which, his formerly crazy former missus has also lightened up a bit. see, it didn’t hurt that much did it? but for a time there it looked as if she had a touch of the lauryn hills.

john legend – can’t be my lover

i tried but failed to get into ‘once again’ but i’m loving the return to form on ‘evolver’. the reggae tracks are totally his comfort zone and the euro-electro tinged tracks even work, much as i am hating this current trend, which should in my opinion have started and ended with britney’s ‘gimme more’.

keyshia cole – where this love could end up

keyshia was hailed as the new mary. to my mind, she has not evolved or developed even slightly past her 2004 debut. this is not to say that ‘just like you’ and ‘a different me’ are bad – they’re as good as ‘the way it is’. if prince were to unleash another few albums that took up where ‘1999’, ‘purple rain’ or ‘sign of the times’ left off then this would be eaten up. but keyshia’s not prince.

mariah carey – i’ll be loving you long time

‘e=mc2’ is nowhere near as good as ‘mimi’ let’s get that out of the way. and ‘touch my body’ is shit. but as r&b albums go it’s head and shoulders above most of the crap we get launched at us these days and everyone is so relieved to see her settled and wearing some clothes for once that this is good enough.

raheem devaughn  – woman

a consistent neo-soul artist who returned in 2008, like clockwork, with ‘love behind the melody’. despite the rubbish neo-soul genre tag, surely grown up soul is where the money’s at these days?

raphael saadiq – sure hope you mean it

like several others, mostly brit, artists, he went the retro route. to great effect and in a far more authentic and endearing way than gimmicky amy winehouse and duffy. raphael has, of course, been doing this since his tony toni tone days. i could have picked almost any of the tracks from ‘way i see it’ as my favourite.

snoop dogg – cool

not much promotion behind ‘ego trippin’ as it goes, which is a shame cos i heart the retro flow of this prince-inspired track and ‘sensual seduction’.

usher – before i met you

i wonder if poor old usher realised just how critical the salivating teen girls and his momager were to his success? not at all, apparently, until ‘here i stand’ bombed and he bricked it. marrying a ropey looking older woman when you have the pick of a population? bratz generation say what?

 

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.

download here

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.

 

only when i laugh January 13, 2008

 nice orange leather catsuit.

every once in a while, a song comes along that actually injects some humour into the lyrics. its the artist’s stand up moment. it’s not that hard…why doesn’t it happen more often?

top five stand up:

  • eddie murphy and the ice cream you can’t afford
  • peter kay and the walking onto the dancefloor dance. and the ‘fine rain that soaks you right through’
  • al murray ‘was never confused’
  • chris rock and er, men who want credit for taking care of their kids…and not being in prison
  • ricky gervais when he isn’t being smug

an honorable mention* must go to lisa moorish. yes, lisa moorish, primrose hill bike, had a career in the 90s and had one vaguely amusing hit ‘mr friday night’, which poked fun at the white shirt brigade. apparently the sales of three cd singles is enough to finance a house in primrose hill and ensure you never have to work again. oh no wait, she actually made sure she got pregnant by someone with a bit of cash – liam gallagher – so she could keep up with kate moss. and fellow oxygen thieves meg and sadie.

*not so much of an honourable mention

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alexander o’neal – fake

even in the late 80s, weaves, fake nails and coloured contacts were in abundance. alex calls them out. cos…yeah, i bet he really goes for the au naturel look….not!

amy winehouse – addicted

starting to lose her spot as the most fucked up celeb on the planet thanks to britney’s latest antics. how long can it be before her PR steals her shoes, pours a bottle of gin down her throat and chucks her out of a cab in the middle of camden again?

cypress hill – insane in the brain

let’s face it they even sound funny. i once knew someone who could do a great b-real impression if you gave him a wig and a baseball cap.

jay-z – 30 something

jay lays it down for all his fellow 30 somethings who know better than these young whippersnappers…um….wait a minute, isn’t jay pushing 40? didn’t he need to make this track, like, ten years ago?

jean grae – how to break up with your girl

jean ingratiates herself with females everywhere by reminding our men how crap our behaviour is. don’t you just know jean is one of those annoying tomboyish women who hate every girl their male friends come into contact with?

john legend – used to love you

well, i think john’s sales have probably edged his finances closer to jay and puffy’s now, so what a difference four years make…i’m pretty sure whitney and bobby were broke aready by 2004 so i’m not sure where that idea came from.

kanye west and jamie foxx – gold digger

now a staple of chicago rock cafes up and down the uk. danced to by women who can’t really pull off the whole gold digger thing anyway…

positive k –  i got a man

box favourite from 1993. the girl who participates in the call and response has a really annoying voice. surely they could have got someone better? or maybe that was the point.

skeelo –  i wish

skee-lo was vertically challenged. and like all shortarse men he wanted to emphasise this with a tall girlfriend. what is that all about? at least carlton banks knew his place.

slick rick – mona lisa

like b-real, slick rick sounds funny even before you hear the lyrics.

streets – don’t mug yourself

tower block humour. ‘mugging yourself off’ has become a national pastime and helped to propel essex boy brian belo to bb8 victory.

tony toni tone – my exgirlfriend

supposed to be about an ex who turns out to be a hooker. but the first time i heard: ‘my exgirlfriend is a hoooooooooo…’ i laughed out loud, and still do.

 

i’m a 90s girl December 19, 2007

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 not every girl needed the security of a band in the 90s. these are some brave souls who stepped out on their own talent.

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chantay savage – betcha’ll never find

best known for her 1996 remake of gloria gaynor’s ‘i will survive’, but she actually released her debut album, including this uptempo track, three years earlier. was said to be recording a new album in 2005, but no sign yet.

diane marsh – private party

well connected uk singer if you believe her myspace. no idea how old she is now but she had a great voice and should make a comeback with a network like that…phew!

elisha la verne – i may be single

elisha did well in japan, mysteriously. well you know what i mean…i know they go for the whole blonde thing but when certain artists blow up over there and leave their home country cold i always think its odd. is it just good PR? content? style?

gina thompson – the things you do

bad boy affiliate whose debut single provided a platform for soon-to-be superstar missy elliott, but failed to ignite her own career.

jamecia – keep it real

mystery artist from 1995.

laurnea – infatuation

still doing it. this is from her first album in 1997, which she worked on with joss stone’s alleged sugar daddy, raphael saadiq. i’m still not sure i believe that rumour…

maxeen – searching

annoyingly, maxeen is now the name of some dreary post-indie, post-punk, post-quality, post-anything-remotely-interesting band.  which makes it difficult to google the original.

mona lisa – just wanna please you

mona had a successful album at the age of 16 and is back with new material, most of which sounds pretty good, at the ripe old age of 27.

monifah – i miss you

lauded as the vocalist to beat all other 90s r&b vocalists at the time she minorly blew up after contributing this song to the new york undercover soundtrack. managed to put out three albums.

taral hicks – distant lover

minorly successful with her one and only album, she is now part of the soul kittens cabaret along with nicci gilbert of brownstone, monifah and several other people i haven’t heard of.

yvette michele – i’m not feeling you

yvette sang the hook on ‘loud hangover’ and a potential star was born. liked to sing about how crazy she was about DJs, a common 90s affliction.

zakiya – love like mine

her second album was shelved and she seemingly gave up on her career…shame as this track was bouncy in a groove theory ‘tell me’ kind of way. never a bad thing.

 

90s male r&b groups – don’t call them boybands May 13, 2007

male soul groups in the 90s were destined never to replicate the success of their pop counterparts. pop requires a manufactured yet individual, who’s-your-favourite type image. soul groups are usually quite similar. only fans can tell the difference. there’s no cute one, sporty one, fat one, funny one – and if there is, it’s real not a product of an over-zealous marketing department.

what also set these groups apart was their ability – robbie williams and jordan knight couldn’t hold a candle to these vocalists. the mass market, for the most part, seemed slightly threatened by this fact. they succumbed to some of the music, boyz ii men’s ‘end of the road’ a notable example, but swept the rest under the carpet where it couldn’t draw unflattering comparisons with their pin up popstars.

check out the b list and the c list too. and now, the z list.

ten boybands who could actually singdownload here



guy – do me right
kings of the new jack swing era, comprising teddy riley, aaron hall and his bro. pioneers of the sound in the late 80s they deservedly held the crown as the scene took off. aaron went to moderate solo success a few years later, and teddy



blackstreetbooti call
…from the ashes of new jack swing, teddy riley created blackstreet. possibly the biggest true male r&b act of the 90s, they had huge success with their first two albums and collaborated twice with swv ,who were somewhat their female counterparts. started to fall off after a tinny duet with weak-voiced mya for the rugrats movie. dave hollister has become a credible yet underappreciated solo artist.

boyz ii men – please don’t go
clean cut boys who met at performing arts school in philadelphia. first achieved worldwide recognition with ‘end of the road’ in the video for which they sang earnestly whilst wearing knee length shorts. the group sold itself on heartfelt ballads and released few uptempo numbers. their wholesomeness possibly allowed member wanya to get away with a relationship with then-underage brandy in the mid-90s.



jodeci – come and talk to me
jodeci were the bad boys of r&b from 1991 to 1996 and provided a sleazier alternative to boyz ii men. kci hailey has long been tarred by his troubled relationship with mary j blige. despite the group being a sorry shadow of their former selves today, their swing mob collective did launch the careers of missy, timbaland and ginuwine amongst others.

tony toni tone – my exgirlfriend
raphael saadiq and co were always the slightly less sleazy and more conscious act of this genre. several successful albums in the early to mid 90s then raphael went solo, and the other two…anyone’s guess. raphael has since discovered a penchant for very young girls and is rumoured to be dating joss stone, 23 years his junior. which goes to show its always the quiet ones you have to watch….
hi-five – i like the way
sweet new jack swing for the ladies, this hit the top of the billboard on release in 1991. the group split in 1994 and never really strayed from this tried and tested formula. now back together and releasing an album – how old must they be now???


mint condition – so fine
along with tony toni tone, revered as one of the more talented and credible groups from the 90s. originally tried to appeal to the new jack crowd but their harmonies were more suited to classic soul and they had many hits in this genre. still recording today, minus keri lewis who left the group to produce, most notably for his wife, toni braxton.
112 – only you
bad boy creation that went global thanks to a remix featuring then hot rappers mase and notorious big, shortly before his death. they have since made a living as members of the bad boy family despite possessing not much vocal talent and zero individuality. but their willing participation on infinite tribute songs keeps them on the payroll and in the recording studio, intermittently.

another level – be alone no more
uk lads who cheekily, like all good authentic cockneys, nabbed their name from a recent blackstreet album. bobak kianoush, dane bowers and the other two were fairly hot uk property in the late 90s. bobak mumbled alongside dane‘s surprising vocals and er, the other two who no one can remember. dane then disgraced himself by following victoria beckham around like a puppy dog for several years after a one-off uk garage collaboration.

jagged edge – let’s get married
twins brian and brandon are often credited for distracting letoya and latavia from the destiny’s child duties whilst touring together in the late 90s. the group have had reasonable success ever since but have the odd knack of making their songs impossible to pinpoint by year. i often hear a track of their and think its old, only to discover its new. hmm.