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Saturday, July 22, 2006

So i'm watching ABC's ripoff reality show The One, which is basically Fame Academy for Americans. One of the judges is Kara DioGuardi, songwriter and producer known for her work with Ashlee Simpson, Lindsay Lohan, and Kelly Clarkson among others. However, her high point is probably doing most of the audible vocals for Hilary Duff's "Come Clean". Anyway, as I watch the show, this girl comes on. She's young, pretty, strong-voiced and idolizes Mariah Carey. When they show her name, I realize that i've seen her before.

Jadyn Maria was best known for doing an Herbal Essences commercial in 2004, singing the extremely catchy pop jingle "Rock Your Senses". She even had a tie-in guest appearance on Amanda Bynes' WB sitcom What I Like About You (theme song is the '80s cover by Lillix) I tried with all my might to find that song in its entirety, but it didn't seem to exist. Then I forgot about her, until she showed up on this show. Google and Limewire, voila, and I find some info! Apparently, she was signed for awhile and was intended to be a contemporary Christian artist. She recorded several tracks in the vein of Stacie Orrico for an album, Choices, scheduled for release in fall of '04 with Sparrow Records. However, once she got spotted by an ad agency that spring, the marketing campaign was put on hold, with her possibly being signed to Virgin Records to do a more mainstream project.

Unfortunately, she got caught in label limbo (I assume), no album was ever released, and she was dropped, hence her appearance on the reality show. She was the first contestant to be eliminated after singing that cursed competition song, "You Keep Me Hangin' On". I hope she keeps plugging at it, because I love the songs of hers i've managed to get, which appear to be from an album sampler of some sort. It's all positive pop, with no overt references to Christianity or God, at least in these particular songs, so don't be shy.

Rock You Senseless - This is the 'real' version of the song used in the ad, without dumb lyrics about shampoo. It's uptempo pure pop with some guitars, like some of Britney's more attitude-filled songs. There was some minor controversy involving her fans (who she gained during some minor CCM gigs and collaborations prior to this) worrying about the lyrics (including "I got a fast car/let's go for a ride") and their possible sexual implications, but Jadyn wrote to them to insist that the songwriter told her it wasn't about that, and that it was just about treating a guy right after another girl hurt him. Um...I don't really believe that, but if that rationalization got her to record the song, i'm all for it! This song was never intended to be on her album, and was given away as a free download. I highly recommend it!

Choices - Described by her official bio as "funky pop", and I think that's sort of fitting. It has kind of a laid back beat that's cool to listen to, and a good message that teens actually have to think about what they do sometimes. I'm definitely not a stickler for clean lyrics and don't have a problem with profanity, but when you can wrap a worthy message around a catchy melody and a good beat, i'm all for it.

Love Don't Love - This song is like a freshly scrubbed Gwen Stefani (with No Doubt). I almost hear a little bit of Lily Allen (heavily censored, of course) in the reggae-lite production, although this was recorded several years before Lily posted her songs on MySpace and was everywhere in the UK and in blogworld. It's a song about abstinence and not having sex until you're ready/married, and while there are many overly sappy and generally horrible songs regarding that subject matter, this is one of the nicer ones. It's more talking straight about how a guy shouldn't force you into doing it if you don't want to. (Lily would say the same thing, except with far more profanity, though just as blunt.)

This is an e-card featuring several videos (including the TV ad and behind-the-scenes clips) and clips of songs that have never leaked in full.

Last Updated @ 12:06 AM

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Cheyenne Kimball is 15 years old. She plays guitar (which is hammered over your head with each promo shot) and co-writes all of her songs with people like Billy Mann (Pink's "God Is a DJ" and "Stupid Girls", Jessica Simpson's "With You", Backstreet Boys' "Poster Girl", and others), Chantal Kreviazuk and Raine Maida (Kelly Clarkson's "Walk Away" and "Where Is Your Heart"), and Kara DioGuiardi (pick a female teen pop-rock album out of the hat, although she may be best known for being 90% of the lead vocals of Hilary Duff's "Come Clean"). She first came to be semi-known by winning the NBC competition America's Most Talented Kid a few years ago, which was enough to get her signed to Epic Records and get her a current reality show with MTV, where she is apparently really annoying, but I can't judge because I haven't watched a second of it.

With a pedigree like this, you'd expect a huge hit like Ashlee Simpson's debut pre-SNL, right? Not so much. It's not even reaching Ashley Parker Angel levels of success. The single, "Hangin' On", hasn't exactly caught on with radio, and first-day predictions have the album selling 30,000 copies in its first week, far below expectations. I was one of those people. It's a pretty solid CD, especially for the sale price I got it at. Warning: her voice can get very annoying and grating at times. I think this could at least partly be because her age, but it can get a bit hard to listen to a lot of her songs in a sitting. But in smaller doses, and separated from the overhype surrounding her so called "credibility", it's pretty sweet.

Wonderful (Acoustic Version) - This is a bonus track on the version of the album I bought from Target. It features pop singer Josh Hodge and is a nice ballad. It's listed as an acoustic version, but I honestly don't hear much that's acoustic about it...it sounds fully produced to me.
Too Good For You - The other bonus track that is more uptempo and driving. It's definitely regular-album-worthy in my eyes
Drift Away - A bonus track on the iTunes version of the album that I managed to acquire through other means. It starts out slow and acoustic-like and then settles into more of a beat, with the guitars almost country like.

Mr. Beautiful - Anybody know if this is the same song called "Mr. Beautiful" slated to be the b-side to the new Frank (who often to tout the fact that they play instruments as well, despite that their first video shows no instruments or, come to think of it, purpose for the three members that aren't the lead singer - at least the useless Pussycat Dolls members dance around, but I digress.) single "I'm Not Shy"? Interestingly, this is the only song on the album (other than the bonus tracks) that has no lyrics listed in the booklet. It's an anthemic Chantal/Raine/Cheyenne number. This would be one of the more unusual examples of song swapping i'd have heard of, but it's impossible to rule out completely. ;)
Hello Goodbye - Catchy, speedy kiddie pop punk to the extreme, like before Avril Lavigne got all serious on us and married the guy from Sum 41. (Congtratulations!) As a bonus, it's under three minutes long.
Breaking Your Heart (Acoustic) - Somewhat unusually, this version is piano- as opposed to guitar based. It's pretty catchy and good, in my opinion.

Last Updated @ 11:54 PM

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Her name is spelled wrong, but whatever. And yes, that is former CD:UK host Cat Deeley serving as the emcee for Fox and 19 Entertainment's less-successful dance spinoff of American Idol. What makes it even stranger/great is that the dude is Mormon, and he's getting all freaky to Dannii. She might be considered the "lesser" Minogue sister, but I don't see Kylie songs on So You Think You Can Dance! (I do love Kylie a lot, though, and she is my favorite, but it's nice for once that the "other one" gets some shine, however minor and brief.)

Put the Needle On It (Jason Nevins Remix) - This version of the song is better than the original. I just wanted an excuse to post it. It sounds a bit like a vinyl rip, but it's still good.

Some more Dannii:

You Won't Forget About Me (Afterlife Remix) - A good chillout remix. Most of Dannii's recent material is uptempo, so this mix is a nice change ocassionally.
Who Do You Love Now (Monoboy Remix Edit) - A nice dance song by Riva (whoever that is, they seem to do some remixing for LeAnn Rimes and others) featuring Dannii.
Come And Get It (Late Night Radio Version) - This is actually J.C.A. featuring Dannii, the former who did the original "I Begin to Wonder" before she covered it. This song has remained un-released except for a minor release in Germany, and a different remix as a bonus track on the Neon Nights album.
Don't Wanna Lose This Groove - An official mash-up of her own "Don't Wanna Lose This Feeling" with Madonna's "Into The Groove", that is better and more successful than the original. Sort of a follow-up of the Dead Or Alive remix of "I Begin to Wonder", which put that song on top of the instrumental of "You Spin Me Round".
Does Your Mother Know - Thanks to robpop, I now know this is not either a cover of the ABBA classic or actually recorded by Dannii herself. It was a demo recorded for consideration for her Neon Nights album that didn't make the cut. I'll leave it up because it sounds nice enough.

Other stuff coming very soon, including Cheyenne and Appleton. Oh, and I still can't get into "SexyBack", no matter how much I try. And while i'm editing this, another contestant on that show danced to "Some Girls" and basically had a seizure to music, but still escaped the cut. The power of Rachel Stevens.

Last Updated @ 11:58 AM

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Former American Idol finalist Christina Christian was from the first season that Kelly Clarkson won, placing sixth. She did that largely on the strength of one great performance ("Ain't No Sunshine"), and looking strikingly beautiful (to the point where Simon Cowell admitted a crush and often made innapropriately suggestive remarks), because most of the time she sounded like a goat, to be honest, although I kind of have to support her for being a semi-local girl. Infamously, she was not present for her elimination because she had been hospitalized for exhaustion.

She was signed by 19 Entertainment after being eliminated, and worked on an album for several years that was left in limbo, with nothing released other than a track on the American Idol Christmas album, before she finally parted ways from their record label. She is still signed with them to write songs for other artists, however. The last I had heard of her, she had finished her college degree, got married, and had a baby; she had decided to put music on the back burner, which makes sense given that the vast majority of singers from American Idol that release material flop hard.

But that wasn't the end! Like every aspiring artist, she just signed up for MySpace. Her profile features four brand new songs. Her voice has vastly improved on these songs, and since I assume she's working independently it isn't Pro-Tools trickery. I doubt this will see any success for that reason, but "Now That You're Gone" is a great mid-tempo guitar pop song with a beat, my favorite of heer songs. "High On Life" is basically poppy world music. "Everytime the Phone Rings" and "Dear Angels" are catchy acoustic ballads, especially the former.

Sorry, I don't have any mp3s of those songs, because I have no idea how to rip files from MySpace. However, here's most of her musical output to this moment:

Forever and Ever - Christina performed this song on an American Idol 3 results show. It's a Latin-tinged pop song that is a bit derivative, but nice. It's like one of the filler tracks on Rachel Stevens' debut album, but if it was on Funky Dory it would have been single-worthy. I think Christina might have co-written this song; either way, it has dropped into the ether with no trace other than this abbreviated live performance, at least until some other Idol contestant somewhere in the world gets a hold of it, which is a shame.

Last Updated @ 10:55 PM

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Coming back with a bang! Got some rest, checked out my fave websites, the whole bit. Now for some pop!

R-Angels (so named because some fans told them that they were their angels! Aww. Not sure if I believe that, but it sounds sweet.) were one of the many groups launched on the cusp of the millennium, attempting to become the American equavilent of the Spice Girls. Dorothy, Gina, Vonnie, and Lian (l-to-r) were Motown Records' entry into the game in 2000. Their first single, "I Need to Know" (not a Marc Anthony cover ;) ), was on the soundtrack to the animated movie Stuart Little. However, it didn't catch on; and after one little-promoted (and far superior) follow-up, "Left to Right", Motown cut their losses and dropped the whole project. Their album, Where's the Party, did not recieve a formal release; I only managed to acquire it through Columbia House or another music club that happened to have some copies laying around and let you pick it as one of your selections, as opposed to turning the material into pulp. (I wish they'd do that with more albums...*sobs for Fefe Dobson's Sunday Love*) The group split shortly after. Lian and Dorothy were close friends and both auditioned for the second season of Popstars in America, the latter winning a spot in the equally ill-fated group Scene 23 (more on them someday). I don't know what's happened to any of them since that. The album is a mixed bag...some songs (especially their attempts at "sexy" "r&b") were hilariously bad, and their voices weren't that great, but some is quality pop that seems to have completely dissapeared.

Left To Right - This song is cute and catchy, no matter how hard it flopped. If i'm not mistaken, it didn't even have a music video. It was co-written by Jorgen Elofsson, who worked with Max Martin in the Cherion days, but by then had struck out on his own. There's a brief rap portion in it too, by one of the girls, but it's more what you got from boy bands than any actual hip-hop. If this had been the first single, maybe things would have turned out differently for them.

Not the Girl I Used 2 Be - Written by Full Force (with the help of a sample), the production team who first came to prominence back in the '80s with Lisa Lisa and classic freestyle pop songs like "I Wonder If I Take You Home" and "All Cried Out". They later did some songs for Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC. It's a pop song with attitude; I think it might even have a chance of being a hit today...at least in the UK. :)

You Belong To My Heart - Another example of classic millenium Swedish pop. Such a pretty mid-tempo song with a great melody. It's a bright and cheery song that will probably lift your mood. This was definitely my favorite of theirs, then and now.

Home Work - Okay, this is total cheese, and possibly a hint at their target audience: "Boy you did your homework well/Reading my heart like a book". The school analogy permeates throughout the whole thing (which makes it all the more ironic when one part in the chorus is grammatically incorrect). Like the last song, this was written and produced by Jorden Aberg and Paul Rein, more Swedes. Only they could get away with writing something like this.

Always You - Nice and boppy. It sounds like early Mandy Moore, which she now disowns. This is the best of several songs on the album that were written by the producers and creators of the group, Vaughn Stewart and John Mortera.

I Need To Know (Hex Hector Remix) - Another Stewart/Mortera production. This is nowhere near the best song on the album, so I can only assume that they chose this song as the lead single because they'd get more royalties off it, instead of having to pay different producers to do more than half the album. The music video was also very low-budget; something involving a slumber party. Some of the melody is simple, and almost nursery rhyme like. I don't have a problem with that, but when there are several bonafide pop gems on this album, it almost seems like a crime that they put this out. This radio-length dance remix is way better than the original version, partly because the original's production seems a bit tinny.

Last Updated @ 9:19 PM