dirty martini

old music for new people

‘…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.

download here

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.

 

princespiration or just prince-piration? September 15, 2007

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since the mid 80s, prince has been an inspiration for many artists, across all genres. his signature sound is uniquely prince and hard to define – for those not lucky enough to work with him or be granted their own piece of purple magic, there was considerable effort behind emulating those tight, suggestive vocals, flirty lyrics, electric production and syncopated beats.

‘sounds a bit like prince’ is lazy music journalism these days but his influence has shone through, and to be awarded such a accolade is every new artists’ marketing department dream, with stevie wonder a close second.

check out some rare prince and some even rarer prince and some artists he actually wanted to share his style with.

here are some songs that make me think of prince when i hear them:

download here

black buddafly – sexyback

nasty delivery and those beats. the girls’ answer track definitely outsasses justin timberlake and their musical upbringing has clearly taken in some of prince’s sleazier joints.

britney spears – i’m a slave for you

the neptunes were most definitely channelling lovesexy when they produced this track for britney. christina aguilera may have stronger vocals but could never pull off something like this. ‘dirty’ sounds horribly dated only five years later.

chromeo – needy girl

dirty mind-era funk updated for the 00s.  the theme is vintage prince – obsession.

ciara and r.kelly – promise

i was sceptical when i heard the new ciara track sounded like prince. but she does appeared to have transcended her crunk beginnings quite successfully.

egyptian lover – freakaholic

if prince had made a track for a high school prom scene in a john hughes movie…i could see molly ringwald, anthony michael hall and co dancing to this – badly. could also have worked as the soundtrack to the african anteater ritual in can’t buy me love.

entouch – all nite

slinky graffiti bridge era prince ripoff. understated but more soul and less mechanical than the new jack sound that prevailed at the time.

michael jackson – in the closet

so you’re the king of pop, what more could you want? to be the prince, clearly. wacko shouldn’t attempt to be sexy cos we’ve also seen how that turns out. even certified shortarse prince would have looked more natural alongside naomi campbell in that video.

ready for the world – oh sheila

one of the first acts to jack prince’s sound, this lot had clearly done their purple homework. at the time their debut, bar this track, was dismissed as ‘prince-lite’ which will do nicely for me until we get some more unreleased 80s prince material from the vaults.

robin thicke – cherry blue skies

darling nikki meets the greatest song title prince never used for the parade soundtrack. robin sound a bit like camille too.

rythm syndicate – p.a.s.s.i.o.n

what prince might have sounded like if he had been signed to sony in the late 80s. so, a hell of a lot better than most of their artists. 

sterling simms – nasty girl

this would have slotted effortlessly into late 70s disco influenced prince sets.

unklejam – love ya

i’m not sure if any of unklejam are really old enough to have been influenced by prince unless their parents have been playing prince to them since a young age. which is commendable but not quite authentic. we don’t want a situation in ten years time where every new band sounds like watered down prince a la all guitar bands since 1994 and the rolling stones…