dirty martini

old music for new people

meeting in the ladies room September 16, 2007

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surely the best part of most nights out is getting ready. as soon as you start drinking it all goes downhill, and once you’re in a sweaty club its all over. but the damage can be limited with the following:

  • waterproof mascara
  • hairspray on slippery soles to stop bambi-style entrances
  • proper underwear for graceful cab exits
  • copious amounts of lee stafford dehumidifier spray on straight hair before you go out
  • mark hill anti frizz serum
  • tesco makeup powder foundation – matt without being cakey
  • cotton buds to get the blobs of eyeliner out of the inner corners
  • nars orgasm / laguna – yes its £££ but it will last forever
  • clinique touch tint eye mousse – does not budge
  • marc jacobs splashes unless you want to asphyxiate everyone  i love rain, orange, amber and cucumber
  • wear your shoes with thick socks for an hour before you go out – trust me on this one!
  • liz earle skin tonic
  • fresh breath drops

you’re going to need to share or take a very large handbag…

download here

amy winehouse – fuck me pumps

that’s right, amy wants us to believe that she is sometimes coherent enough to make conscious fashion choices. she has, however, been spotted in camden without any footwear whatsoever. surely one of the worst places in the world to do that in…

beyonce – freakum dress

oh so that’s how she hooked er, super rich and fugly joe camel. i’m guessing she doesn’t really wear house of dereon – how ghetto is that name? it looks like the stuff you get in fenwick in brent cross… no i actually like jayonce. it would be really boring if she was with someone like usher.

india arie – i am not my hair

india may not be her hair but i bet it pisses her off when she gets caught in the rain. or in humidity. or too near central heating. god hair is a pain in the arse. but if it looks crap, you feel crap – fact.

jade – out with the girls

much as i like this track, it would be far more authentic if the girls sounded as if they had polished off a bottle or three of cherry lambrini in the cab.

jay-z – change clothes

proof that money can buy style, jay-z tries to get in on the act. i thought all most men did was shit, shower and shave?

klymaxx – meeting in the ladies room

a very 80s restroom hookup – i can just see the plastic earrings, smell the exclamation and picture the rimmel lipgloss.

lamont dozier – take off your makeup

a midtempo disco soul cut from a man better known as part of songwriting and producing trio holland-dozier-holland, who worked with most of the motown stable.

lil mama – lip gloss

has far too much makeup for someone her age. at that age i wore the same makeup to college, nights out, weekends, family gatherings, shopping….

missy elliott – let me fix my weave

what is the big deal with weaves anyway? it seems to be the ultimate insult to point out that someone has a weave. so what? most people have fake something these days.

patra and aaron hall – scent of attraction

i’m being won over by lighter scents these days. if other girls can identify you a mile off, that can’t be right…marc jacobs and gucci are getting it right. sjp’s covet isn’t bad either. if this track was a perfume though, it would probably be obsession by calvin klein.

sister sledge – il macquillage lady

makeup has come a long way since the 70s. even in the early 90s we were subjected to pink rimmel foundation, too much shimmer and way too much pearl. eyeshadow was brown or ivory. thank god for sephora, which they have now closed in the uk. thanks a lot!

vanity 6 – makeup

well, of course they did a song about makeup, prince wore a ton of the stuff. all of their songs were cute and this is no exception.

 

you can’t give a baby booze September 3, 2007

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 drinking and music just works.  given that we do not live in a musical and most of us aren’t one of the kids from fame, we need a little liquid encouragement to start shaking it in a public place.

alcohol has moved on during my clubbing lifetime. in my early 90s, underage with someone else’s fake ID days, we drank some disgusting concoctions. snakebite and black, pernod and black, malibu and pineapple. not forgetting of course the infamous taboo and mirage which were rubbish because they didn’t get you pissed as quickly. pimms was avoided for the very same reason. it was spirits, cider, lager and wine.

the alcopops invasion happened when i started university, with hooch and two dogs ‘lemonade’. the former made my throat hurt it was so acidic and the latter’s alcohol content seemed to be entirely derived from sugar. bacardi breezers are still going strong but others we have loved and lost – ginzing, jammin’ (loved the blue and silver ones, yellow banana one was yuck), decoda (cream soda, yum), metz, woody’s and the best ever, smirnoff mule.

when you’re a penniless student though, sod sophistication and refinement. your alcohol budget (all of your available cash not spent on bus fare and bagels) can be stretched further than six 79p alcopops from the offie. oh yes, you can make the ‘i’ve been tangoed’ by mixing lambrusco, gin and orange juice for that just been hit over the head feeling. the unpopular and therefore cheap castaway, mixed with diamond white for a cocktail that will render you senseless in the student bar. 

once you graduate and have a bit more cash (I did only say a bit) all three flavours of aftershock can be dumped into a pint glass containing a bottle of smirnoff ice to produce a deceptively misty looking yet lethal concoction best consumed when you have a designated driver. ok, as a girl, i have never done this but its a twentysomething male staple along with vodka and red bull for those morning after shakes.

now? well, if i order a cocktail that costs less than a fiver I congratulate myself on not going overboard. pathetic…

download here

2pac – pour out a little liquor

busta rhymes – pass the courvoisier

d’angelo – one mo’ gin

j-kwon – tipsy

jutbox and cassie – at the bar

omarion and usher – icebox

public announcement – put your drink down

snoop dogg – gin and juice

solange knowles – champagne chronic nightcap

tony toni tone – slow wine

too short – cocktails

ub40 – red red wine

young black teenagers – tap the bottle

 

before they were famous August 28, 2007

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 sometimes things take a little time to get right. i’m not talking britney spears in a meringue dress growling her way through early 90s hits on the mickey mouse club, or a pre-makeover jennifer lopez looking butch on in living color.

these are the early recordings that got feet in doors. some of them are better than others. that’s my disclaimer right there.

download here

luther vandross – the second time around (1976)

luther was originally part of a group, called ‘luther’. ooh, premature diva anyone? this song was from the first of two albums in 1976 and is standard mid 70s soul. he also sang an ad for kfc around the same time…soul food indeed.

alicia keys – sexy thing (1997)

a very young ms keys contributed this track to the men in black soundtrack. she sounds more or less the same but had developed a more unique tone by the time of her debut four years later.

ashanti – can’t stop (1997)

not sure how ashanti clung on for five years to make the leap from low budget debut to murder inc and innumerable collaborations with ja rule. these days an artist is stuffed if they don’t create a buzz on myspace within five weeks.

biggie – party and bullshit (1993)

nice lumberjack’n’fire-in-keg era hiphop. a year later, ‘ready to die’ was released and the rest is sad history. no doubt he would be the biggest rapper in the game if he were still alive. 

leona lewis – private party (2004)

recorded with ludacris before her appearance on x factor 2006, it makes you wonder if the music industry just sits back and waits for tv to tell them who to sign? well, good for her for going the proper route and being too nice to do anything unsavoury to get ahead.

usher – call me a mack (1993)

usher was only 14 when he recorded this for the poetic justice soundtrack and it shows. did usher’s early foray into the adult music business inspire his preference for older women? you’d think he could do better than a he-woman though.

john legend – hurt so bad (2003)

i think i might prefer jl’s early work to his current album. hmm. or maybe live just suits him better. he did several live sets before releasing a studio album.

janet jackson – young love (1982)

if a jackson couldn’t score a hit in 1982, you would assume it was because the music was poor. janet’s first two albums are quality post-disco soul but i think people were just expecting something a bit more groundbreaking. which ‘control’ certainly was.

mariah carey – weakness of the body (1986)

well, the leona lewis story seems to be repeating history to an extent. mariah was certainly active for several years before her debut and whitney was recording since the late 70s. maybe this is the secret to a long lasting career. rihanna’s stuffed, then…

anthony hamilton – total xtc (1996)

…but hopefully this bodes well for anthony, whose 90s debut was totally overlooked. the style is more conscious of its time than his successful later efforts, and not as well thought out, but very listenable.

prince – just another sucker (1977)

19 year old prince recorded this track as part of his then band 94 east. could have easily slotted into one of his later albums. must have sounded amazing in 1977 – to those few who actually got to hear it.

destiny’s child – killing time (1997)

this is a nice but unremarkable slow jam from the men in black soundtrack, but those vocals and harmonies are there. i miss the original lineup. wish some unreleased material would surface, that would be interesting.

 

reality: the UK vs the US August 23, 2007

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reality tv has come a long way since hearsay and kelly clarkson. so, these are some of the best acts to emerge from popstars, pop idol, the x factor and american idol. you can also check out more acts to emerge from these shows.

download here

shayne ward -if that’s ok with you

best live performance – a million love songs (take that)

back in 2005, it wasn’t just hysterical 14 year olds voting for shayne, the entire female uk population, my mum and sharon osbourne included, had ward fever. he beat out more talented acts to be crowned winner of the x factor, but I have to say he’s grown on me. well, he is cute. started his career with drippy ballads but this soon to be released song shows he’s moving in a more interesting direction now, capitalising on the diverse vocal styles he displayed during the live shows.

anton gordon – hot romance

best live performance – cherish (kool and the gang)

where is anton? only this one track in five years? rumour has it he was turned away from this year’s x factor auditions. itv claim he just didn’t make the grade but the truth is they were embarrassed that they let pete waterman massacre his career after popstars: the rivals. one true voice was a shambles. poor old anton put in amazing performances week in week out only to be marginalised within a cheesy boyband singing bee gees covers. i could weep…and on the night he sang cherish i nearly did.

leona lewis – paradise

best live performance – i have nothing (whitney houston)

tough to pick one but this was the night i knew she’d win. leona blew us away last year in the x factor, and it was hard not to get overexcited. was she better than the girls of american idol? in some cases yes, in others, just different. american idol does belters a la mandisa and lakisha but leona is a more diverse vocalist. i can’t think of a comparative idol contestant but roxanne of pop idol in the uk comes close, albeit with much less range.

liberty x – jumpin’

best live performance….

er, i can’t remember any of their individual performances on popstars. but liberty x had some decent songs, firstly by riding the uk garage wave and then with neptunes inspired efforts like this. ok so in order to stay in the limelight they also covered a hell of a lot of big 80s soul songs like got to have your love, night to remember, ain’t nobody…can’t hurt right?

lemar – dance with you

best live peformance – let’s stay together (al green)

so far the most successful of the uk’s reality stars, along with girls aloud. lemar didn’t even win the dull and worthy fame academy but he’s the only contestant most people can remember from all three series. david sneddon anyone? thought not. in some ways, lemar has found it easier to disassociate himself than he might have done from pop idol or the x factor. both of which he could have won, no contest.

javine – surrender

best live performance – i’m every woman (chaka khan)

javine shrugged off initial public rejection to make a reasonably successful debut but slid into eurovision. as if any further depths could be plunged, whilst in daddy cool she made off with married co-star, harvey so solid. his wife, alesha dixon of girl band misteeq, has rightly used every opportunity to wreak public vengeance. then gobshite jamelia called her a slut on tv. pot. kettle. file this comeback under ‘unlikely’.

ruben studdard – sorry 2004

best live performance – a whole new world (peabo bryson)

how could anyone not love the velvet teddy bear? the confusion on ruben’s face as he took reviews from the judges on his perfomance each week was priceless. it was all so effortless for him. he hasn’t blown up yet but i think he’s more of a thirtysomething artist anyway. i can’t even believe clay aiken was a serious contender…ick. surely the most unattractive idol contestant ever – like ian beale in makeup.

latoya london – appreciate

best live performance – somewhere (west side story)

i don’t really like fantasia’s quacking vocals. for me, latoya was more talented and far classier, if not such a compelling performer. she could have been in the final another year. i’ve yet to find a better version of somewhere and so hers is the one i listen to.

elliot yamin – alright

best live performance – a song for you (donny hathaway)

i love him – chocolate, honey and vanilla wrapped up in one smooth voice. whilst soul purists may have balked at the idea, to me, elliot singing a donny hathaway song was inspired. how bland, gawky katherine mcphee and father ted impersonator taylor hicks beat him out to the final, i will never know. the proof will be in the longevity.

nikko -hot like summer

best performance – can we talk (tevin campbell)

back in the competition when another contestant dropped out, nikko turned in some great performances before he was eliminated and revived a classic tune from long forgotten r&b teen idol tevin campbell. kind of like usher with glasses, minus the stupid dancing.

mario vasquez – i bet

best performance – do i do (stevie wonder)

oh god…when mario performed stevie wonder’s ‘do i do’ in the semi final rounds, it was all over. and then he mysteriously disappeared. that ‘season’ (its a series! my bf yells this at the tv every year) descended into rock and country hell, with  carrie the country robot and throwback rocker bo in the final. 

jennifer hudson – love you i do

best performance – weekend in new england (barry manilow)

elton john vocalised what many people were thinking. it was spot on unlike his current ‘ban the internet’ tirade. how did jen slip under the radar? she totally outshone beyonce in dreamgirls and looking back, should have won that ‘season’. but i have to admit, i didn’t notice her star potential at the time either.

 

in the air tonight June 6, 2007

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if you’re in the mood, or trying to attract someone’s attention, you might text the name of your loved one to one of the numerous music channels and get a request played. but they need to be aware that you’re doing so or they’ll be watching one of a hundred other channels – which misses the point, and the element of surprise. this was one of the good things about local radio.local radio djs were smooth. they played soothing sounds that you wouldn’t normally hear on daytime radio. they didn’t try to be cool – if it was popular, they played it.people do still listen to the radio, and its a lot less tricky in these days of dab stations, which have removed the need to stand in front of the radio holding the aerial up at funny angles to get a decent reception.

twenty years ago, if you sent out a similar request on a late night radio show, you could be reasonably certain that either the intended recipient or at least one of their friends, would hear it. the song we chose for our dedication was most likely sophisticated beyond our years. even though we did have younger artists in the 80s, like five star, new edition, debbie gibson and countless others, most soul music was adult. we were listening to artists singing about relationships, emotions and situations we couldn’t possibly understand.

so, as a result, instead of the obsession with youth that appears to start as early as age ten nowadays,we actually wanted to be older. thirty, to be precise. thirtysomethings were glamorous and the had the kind of lifestyle I looked up to. they went to clubs, restaurants, had exotic holidays, exciting friends and dramatic relationships. john hughes movies aside, most popular 80s tv shows and movies, bar those specifically produced for kids, focused on older characters, not those that still lived with their parents.so ironically, I wanted to be the age I am now, twenty years ago, and now that I am, I’m made to feel like I should want to be younger. but i don’t – the thought of being someone who didn’t grow up in the 80s and experience real life terrifies me much more than getting older.

late night dedicationsdownload here 

alexander o’neal – if you were here tonight
his first solo single, and classic.

anita baker – caught up in the rapture
apparently inspired mary j blige to become a singer.
controllers – stay
typical 80s slow jam.

eugene wilde – gotta get you home
later sampled/covered by foxy brown and blackstreet.

force md’s – tender love
later covered by cockney soul boy kenny thomas.

freddie jackson – rock me tonight
what happened to freddie?

gap band – yearning for your love
one of those songs you’ve heard before…but didn’t realise.

george benson – in your eyes
from smooth jazz to weepy ballad.

gregory abbott – shake you down
very popular last dance at many an 80s club.

isley brothers – choosey lover
this was later covered by aaliyah.

janet jackson – let’s wait a while
slightly different version from control the remixes – more tinkly.

kool and the gang – cherish
anyone from the uk remember anton singing this on popstars the rivals?

luther vandross – so amazing
vintage luther. tribute version by beyonce and stevie wonder.

melisa morgan – do me baby
prince cover, actually think i prefer this version.

midnight star – slow jam
one of the first 80s slow jams – covered later by usher and monica.

 

90s r&b ingenues – some cautionary tales May 1, 2007

in today’s r&b scene there are several artists that you feel like you’ve grown up with. and there is a good reason for that – you have.the rise of teenage r&b singers in the early and mid 90s probably wouldn’t unfold in quite the same way today. it wasn’t entirely a new phenomenon – there have always been child stars but they usually made age appropriate music, or acted younger than their age. but representing real teenagers is a bit more difficult. we know they do the same things as adults, but it’s illegal so we don’t talk about it too much.
before the spice girls changed the rulebook, image and identity were just an added facet of celebrity rather than something you planned in great detail, either to complement talent or disguise a lack of it. it was possible to make music and be a bit vague about who you were and more importantly, how old you were.

the fact that these singers were the same age or even younger than they audience they were targeting, wasn’t immediately apparent. their songs dealt with adult issues, they collaborated with adults and existed within adult spaces. in some cases, this did impact on their personal lives by accelerating their development. we’ll never really know the truth about aaliyah and r.kelly‘s alleged underage marriage, unless it surfaces in the fallout from his court case.

ten 90s jailbait anthemsdownload here

brandy – baby
born 1979, debut 1994 at age 14
poor old brandy. until recently, one of the most successful of the 90s ingenues, having completed 4 successful albums, a tv show, movie and a panel spot on america’s got talent’. after the birth of her first child, her marriage was exposed as fake and she is currently awaiting trial for manslaughter after a crash that killed another driver. we won’t even go into her errant brother ray j, those tapes and the whitney thing…

tevin campbell – can we talk
born 1976, debut 1990 at age 13
tevin
‘s first taste was as a guest performer on prince‘s 1990 album ‘graffiti bridge’. a year later, his first album hit and he became an overnight star. he famously dated tatyana ali, both on and off-screen, after a cameo role playing himself in the fresh prince of bel air. there has been considerable speculation about his sexuality and he has been arrested for a george michael-style incident with an undercover cop.


aaliyah – the thing i like

born 1979, debut 1994 age 15
since her tragic death in 2001, aaliyah‘s popularity has spiralled. before, she was a popular yet often overlooked singer on the verge of superstardom as an actress. she blossomed as she broke away from r.kelly and hooked up with visionaries missy elliott and timbaland. aaliyah’s smooth, caramel-like voice sounds even more soothing against many of the melismatic, shrill and shouty copycat acts she’s inspired since.


usher – think of you

born 1978, debut 1993 age 14

in 1991, 13 year old usher‘s appearance on star search led to a contract with laface. precocious beyond his years thanks to an ill-advised internship at bad boy, usher was well known on the circuit by 1992 and in 1993 his first track appeared on the soundtrack to poetic justice. in 1994 he released his eponymous debut, but didn’t hit paydirt until worldwide smash ‘you make me wanna’ in 1998.


monica – angel
born 1980, debut 1995 at age 14

in 1991, 11 year old monica started work on what would become her 1995 debut ‘miss thang‘. an astonishingly mature effort given that fact, it remains her best album to date and stood confidently alongside offerings from more mature artists. like many of her peers, monica has suffered significant personal trauma with the suicide of her boyfriend, and has been criticised recently for dressing her three year old son as a thug. these critics best not visit croydon. despite being only 26 now, she looks much older thanks to a dodgy bleach job.

smooth – mind blowin

born “1979”, debut 1990 age “11”…
ok, something here doesn’t quite add up. if her alleged birth year is correct, mc smooth debuted at age 11 in 1990 with an album produced by her brother, chris stokes who also produced b2k and iMx. we’ll suspend disbelief…in 1993 she recorded a sophomore effort, now as smooth, ‘you been played’, but it was her third album at age 16 in 1995, that broke her. now recording under an alias, ‘needa s’. her real name is juanita stokes if anyone can be bothered to uncover the truth…i hear she was born in 1973 but having viewed a clip on youtube that would have been recorded in 1990, i find it a stretch to believe she was even 17 at the time.




mona lisa – can’t be wasting my time
born 1979, debut 1995 age 16
had no idea she was so young at the time. if she was – she named her debut album ’11-20-79′, her birthdate, so more likely than the aforementioned ms stokes. if that picture’s anything to go by, mona tried a bit too hard to labour the point about her youth by wearing bunches. at the age of 16. her second album was shelved but a comeback is imminent and several tracks have leaked.




destiny’s child – no no no
born 1981/2 – debut 1997 ages 15
so, despite ongoing allegations that beyonce was born as early as 1974, and not 1981 as drilled home during recent bday promotion, it doesn’t seem as odd looking at the rest of this list. after several members and incarnations, which would later prove to be just the tip of the iceberg, their arrival in 1997 heralded the new era of jittery tracks overlaid with rhythmic rather than melodic vocals.



immature – feel the funk
born 1981, debut 1992 age 11
after a childish debut, immature, including future actor and r&b star marques houston, had to wait for their third album and er, puberty, before gaining success in 1995. several years later they realised that their name was perhaps not doing them any favours and they became IMx.


kris kross – i missed the bus
born 1978/79, debut 1992 ages 13/14

research has failed to uncover an earlier example of clothes being worn backwards. therefore, millions of fashion crimes can be traced back to a pair of early teens, both called chris, in 1992. just to clarify, an entire culture took style cues from a 13 and 14 year old. never in 2007. i have resisted the temptation to put ‘jump’ on here. it’s usually played in clubs right after ‘jump around’ if you seriously can’t remember it…