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Friday, September 29, 2006

Ugh, I haven't posted in forever. Sorry about that. I had to decompress after Clay Aiken's #2 debut on the album charts (no jokes please). Rest assured that I still remember this blog exists! I'm trying to be better about it. On a better note, I found the Melissa Lefton album where I left it, so expect a post about that really soon!

This is for Pop Poster Girl especially, but everyone really. Tyler James kind off appeared on the British music scene out of nowhere in 2004. Although he had been kicking around the pop industry writing songs for others, he only decided to step into the spotlight himself later on due to the usual record label politics. First single "Why Do I Do" was a minor hit, and he released a handful of other singles. The marginal success of those led his label to withdraw plans for a release of his album The Unlikely Lad (named such because he lived in an hard-luck area of London where the boys were well-known to be mostly screw-ups, and nobody expected anything of him...at least that's what I remember from his official bio, which is now down since he was dropped), eventually solely recieving a digital download release in 2005. I really don't know why things didn't work out with him: talented in both singing and songwriting, attractive, seemed to have good personality and stage presence. At one point he was called the "British Justin Timberlake", but unfortunately it was not to be. I can't find any info about what he's doing now; only a MySpace profile for a guy from Nashville who also happens to be named Tyler James, although the American Tyler James' music isn't nearly as good.

Foolish (Bimbo Jones Remix) - "Foolish" was his most successful song, peaking in the top 20. In another example of pop's recycling bin, it was previously recorded by Gareth Gates on his second album. After that died, Tyler reclaimed his own song to put out as a single. Normally I don't care whether or not an artist writes a song, but in this case I think Tyler's version is best. It's fun and uptempo, and this rare, promo-only remix makes it even more so.
Bonus: Justin Guarini - "Foolish" In 2002, first season American Idol runner-up Justin Guarini seemed to have a pretty bright future ahead of him. This song was rumored to be scheduled as his first single, and was leaked by a survey on a website. The response was pretty bad by a lot of fans, so the song was scrapped entirely, and this low quality rip is the only version known to exist. Ironically, it's better than 99% of what actually made his debut album. The arrangement is pretty similar to both Tyler's and Gareth's versions, but the low bitrate makes it more of a curiousity than anything.

Your Woman - Tyler's 3rd single was a cover of the White Town song from the late '90s. It loses a bit of its creepiness by not having a wierd female-ish disembodied voice singing it, but I prefer this version because of the beat and less annoying vocals. It adds yet another level to have a guy with an obvious male voice saying "I could never be your woman". Despite some measure of promotion, it was a flop.

Dead Or Alive - One of my favorite album tracks, featuring one of the album's running lyrical themes. Namely: I'm a man that screwed up, but the girl is no longer willing to put up with my shit. It's a kind of mid-tempo with a guitar/electronic mixed backing. highly recommended

Best For Me - A jazz inspired song, kind of breezy like some of the better songs on the first disc of Back to Basics, featuring fellow British chanteuse Amy Winehouse. She's actually putting out a second album soon, and I love her first CD Frank (available on iTunes, not to be confused with the recent ill-fated Xenomania project). They were friends before fame (however loosely fame is construed), and their soulful vocals go well together. It's probably one of the happiest songs on the album.

One Place Left to Go - Haunting, almost psychadelic-sounding ballad that builds, with some great falsetto. I think it's one of the best songs about friends becoming lovers that i've heard. Epic is probably too strong a word, but it tries to come off as that and almost succeeds.

Why Do I Do (Grant Nelson Vocal Remix) - Another dance remix, this time of his first single. It's more on the soulful tip than the "Foolish" remix. I think it goes well with the feeling of the song, though it removes the piano elements at the forefront of the original. Here's the video for the original version:

Nothing - B-side to his final single "Your Woman", which has some reggae and electronic influences. An earlier single included an acoustic version of the song, but I guess he decided it was so nice, he needed to use it twice! This version has horns. It sounds pretty personal: "nobody owes me nothing at all".

My Time (Acoustic Version) - As far as I know, no other versions of this song exist. It was a b-side to "Why Do I Do". He does the whole song in falsetto, and while he has a good one (better than JT's and a lot of others'), it's a bit much. For me, it kind of distracts from the song, though it has potential. Since it was put on record on acoustic version, I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't completely finished. If you're a fan of that, and like energetic acoustic numbers, this is for you.

Temptation - Another b-side to "Your Woman", but I find it single-worthy. It's a total stomper, with the piano trademark, and the very beginning also has that one sound effect/instrument that starts Hard-Fi's "Cash Machine". It's amazing, and sometimes I think the a-side should have been switched, which might have saved his career. There's also quite a bit of nifty harmonizing with himself, and a brief breakdown midway through, which is a hallmark of many great pop songs. highly recommended

Foolish (Acoustic Version) - To finish it off, yet another b-side, and yet another version of this song. It might seem like a throwaway, but in general i'm a fan of acoustic versions, and this one is especially good. The song is still great in a slower form, and it shows a different side. It's kind of like how a Radio 1 broadcast with Jo Whiley sounds...I wonder what cover song he would have chosen. ;)

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