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.

download 2008 newcomers

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.

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teenage love affair July 10, 2008

before t’internet, there were magazines. ok there still are magazines but i now buy two per month – heat and glamour – whereas back in the day i used to get about ten.

just seventeen was good for horoscopes and those little free books that taught you to be a total stalker, in a completely non-harmless way of course…’close your eyes and think of a question. stick a pencil down anywhere on the page. find the symbol you land on and the answer will be revealed….’he thinks you’re too good for him’. well, durrrr.

more! was of interest primarily for the problem pages, which went slightly beyond that of the other titles. there was no ‘shoud i kiss him or not?’ boys at school would pore over these pages in great detail, before checking position of the fortnight. ‘oh yeah…done that already.’ ‘who with?’ ‘you don’t know her…i met her on holiday…’

mizz dealt in hardcore compatibility charts. so if you were an aries and you liked a pisces you were basically screwed. question: did anyone actually look a compatibility chart, see that their intended target was suitable and then march up to them at school the next day? no. it made no difference except if he turned you down…’we weren’t compatible anyway, he’s a fucking leo, i can’t be doing with it…’

minx ruled. it dared to take the piss out of gormless celebs like ‘louise out of eternal’ and the spice girls, much to the anger of their PRs, as I remember. i have no idea why it disappeared so suddenly, everyone i knew loved it.

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alicia keys – teenage love affair

amazulu – too good to be forgotten

aaliyah – age ain’t nothin’ but a number

beyonce – my first time

chairmen of the board – since there were pigtails

cool notes – you’re never too young

erykah badu – back in the day

hot chocolate – it started with a kiss

ryan leslie – used to be

shanice – i love your smile

sister sledge – frankie

slick rick – teenage love

 

say my name: d to i April 21, 2008

 

 

 

 
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funnily enough, esmeralda never caught on as a baby name. ’emma’ by hot chocolate was released in 1973…there are a LOT of 25-35 year olds called emma. at least two in every class during my school days.

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another bad creation – iesha

blacknuss – dinah

charme – georgy porgy

de la soul – jenifa taught me

hot chocolate – emma 

lloyd – hazel

prince – the ballad of dorothy parker

ryan leslie – irina

william bell – eloise

le gamby – esmeralda

sade – frankie’s first affair

sister sledge – frankie

 

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

 

love it when you call February 19, 2008

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if you are under 25 then you have no idea how far phones have come since, say, 1983. or if you watch any old skool tv then maybe you do?

i can barely imagine myself using the antiquated phone we had in my early childhood. but i did – it was one of those heavy plastic things BT used to give out in standard issue red, cream or dark olive green. it had the letters of the alphabet printed on the piece of cardboard behind the clear plastic dial, next to the numbers. this hinted at the availability of a US style phone system where you could easily memorise commercial numbers, but as far as I remember this didn’t happen in the UK, where we like to make everything as difficult as possible. put it this way, you couldn’t dial 0800-TESCO.

we even managed to memorise numbers, it is possible. at a push, i can still remember the numbers for all of my friends and family up to about the age of 12 but probably couldn’t more than three of the numbers in my blackberry today under pain of death. perhaps the most famous number of all was the number for swap shop – 01 811 8055. ironically then, it was easier to contact the bbc in 1982 armed with that knowledge, than it is to find their number on a website designed to discourage calls.

phones then, were integral to relationships. an iconic image of the 80s is that of a girl on the phone with a suprised expression on her face…i couldn’t find one though! she was probably surprised she was allowed to use it…phone bill battles were so commonplace that neighbouring friends often succumbed to old tin cans on a string trick. i have no idea if that even worked….

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blackstreet – booti call

bootsy collins – what’s a telephone bill

cheyne – call me mr telephone

good girls – just call me

junior brown – long time me call

in the mix – dial me baby

loose ends – dial 999

new edition – mr telephone man

portrait – i can call you

prince – how come you don’t call me anymore

ryan leslie – promise not to call

sheena easton – telephone

sherrick – just call

teairra mari – phone booth

tony jay – telephone line

 

‘…sounds a bit like prince…’ January 4, 2008

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 as a new artist, or even as an established artist, one of the greatest endorsements is to be labelled as sounding ‘a bit like prince’.

the saving grace of lazy journalists everwhere, these few words can rescue a flopping album, even if they are only bestowed upon one or two tracks. now that prince himself is more rock-fixated, the promise of just one or two scraps reminiscent of his 80s prime can be sufficient to spark interest amongst the musical cognoscenti.

to a lesser extent, this peculiar brand of retro copycat hype has previously been applied to artists lauded as the new ‘stevie wonder’ or ‘madonna’. there isn’t going to be a new prince, and it turned out out that those artists were similarly irreplaceable. the excitable, yet totally unreal, music journalism of the the late 90s has given way to a more considered approach.

we don’t need a new prince – clearly the man has produced gargantuan amounts of music and yet more could be unleashed at any point (please). the accessibility of retro music means that we don’t need rafts of exciting new artists – gone are the days when you had to pay a premium to get hold of music that was no longer in the charts.

we just need a few new songs every now and then. and they should sound as much like ‘when doves cry’ as possible.

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alicia keys – like you’ll never see me again

debuted with an album containing a prince cover – a b side no less, to show her fan credentials.  on this track, not only the production, but the vocal style and lyrics ooze purple. a lesser artist could be accused of bandwagon hopping but alicia has already proved herself.

chris brown – take you down

chris brown, however, has clearly been advised that the tumble tots r&b will only take him so far and is trialling a new, more adult musical direction – prince. job one should have been to work on that childish feature in his voice that makes him sound like he’s not old enough to form singular vowels – evidence: ‘you make me say yeeeeeoooooaaaaaawwwwww’. shit, my cat forms better vowels than that.

the dream – fast car

i like what i’ve heard from the dream so far, which isn’t a lot. but this and album track ‘nikki’ do reek of ‘obligatory prince-esque production’ to hook gullible and lazy journalists and perk up enthusiastic but clueless PR. basically this is ‘little red corvette’ not-so-updated for the 00s.

erykah badu – honey

an interesting detour for ms badu. i love her music but neo-soul artists can often fall into the dull and worthy trap, making their albums unlistenable by the time they get to their fourth outing.

justin timberlake and beyonce – until the end of time

the influence is slightly more subtle here, but those ‘when doves cry’ instruments are there, just slower, and the overall vibe is classic prince slow jam.

kevin michael – liquid lava love

like robin thicke with a curly afro and arguably more soul. expect big things from this one.

ne-yo – sex with my ex

ne-yo got a lot of stick for allegedly being gay. then when he fathered a child, he got a lot of stick for being ugly. now he’s getting a lot of stick for churning out a raft of soundalike tracks for the artsts he produces for. with all this abuse perhaps he’ll soon have more in common with craaaaaaig david.

p diddy and keyshia cole – last night

an absolute, straight in your face ‘erotic city’ ripoff so blatant that you can’t really argue. as ever, diddy’s montone adds little to the proceedings.

ryan leslie – i-r-i-n-a

ryan leslie’s productions have more than a whiff of purple about them but his own album was fairly narrative and self-celebratory which isn’t prince’s style. prince’s lyrics are cute and playful and focus on the subject rather than the protagonist and so i’m talking production similarities here – there’s no parallel in terms of subject matter, although this is the closet r-les gets to purple greatness.

snoop – sensual seduction

the video and lyrics are classic prince, but the production?  not like anything i’ve heard from prince, but perhaps i’m missing something. the synths are straight out of early 90s chillout, i’m pretty sure they’re too floaty and random for the machine funk of the 80s. nice combo though, me likey.

sterling simms – nasty girl

sterling jumps right back to late 70s prince while everyone else tries to recreate the 80s.

van hunt – hot stage lights

i only just listened to van hunt after hearing his name for years. and now i have a new musical crush. the only good thing about discovering artists late is that there is usually plenty of material to whet your appetite.

 

i can’t believe it’s not prince September 22, 2007

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oh yes, this is a sequel. there are definitely more than one post’s worth of prince jackers.

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alexander o’neal – innocent

well, alex was in a band, flyte time, with prince in the 70s. so it’s natural that their sounds would evolve similarly. especially with jam and lewis on production duties. i heard something about alex being spotted on kilburn high road looking confused last week. wtf if a soul legend doing on kilburn high road? shopping in primark?

cassie – me and you

no she can’t sing, especially not live, but the general consensus is that she’s getting away with it cos she has hot beats courtesy of er, her man ryan leslie. this sparse track is ‘kiss’ for the 00s. but not as good, obviously.

damage – ghetto romance

a very turn of the century sounding track from the boys and i’m not sure why it reminds me of prince exactly but i want to include it so…here it is.

janet jackson – if

in your face funk. janet, like prince, was never afraid to use rock in her production. she was also never afraid to tell it like it is which is probably they were my two favourite artists of the 80s. this track is every bit as hectic as ‘my name is prince’ which was out just a bit earlier.

karyn white – hungah

karyn’s earlier efforts were 80s machine funk and new jack swing respectively but for her third album she stripped her sound down somewhat.

mario vasquez – cohiba

the first time i saw mario on american idol i thought he had the potential to perform like prince, if not to be such an all rounder.  i’m not sure why this project has stalled…

natural selection – do anything

well this track fooled me the first time i heard it. the call and response chorus is very ‘erotic city’ and the beat is like a slowed down ‘extra loveable’.

nicole scherzinger – steam

there are no shortage of prince-style beats in 2007, which is just as well as nicole isn’t interesting enough without them. i’m not sure what all the fuss is about here. this will be another flop due to deluded self-belief that she’s as interesting on her own.

paula abdul – my love is for real

after cartoon cats and ethereal ballads, paula’s third album tried to channel prince and probably was more credible although not at all a success. her vocals are the problem. i find it incredible that she now judges others and that simon cowell has managed not point out the irony.

ryan leslie – rock u

to me, most of next selection’s beats are an attempt to recreate the buzz around early 80s prince. are ryan and cassie the new prince and vanity? probably, which is proof of the decline in quality and talent in the music industry.

spl2rge – scuse me

bear with me on this one – if prince had been born in london not minneapolis, twenty five years later, this is the kind of music he would have been making.

teedra moses – backstroke

well, teedra lies about her age but she does make decent music. this is very 90s prince.