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. ;)
Just kidding. But this girl deserves to have the #1 single this week. I have no clue how she could barely scrape the top 10. (Maybe it was the cameo appearance of furries in the video that turned off buyers?) A lot of people have probably heard Jamelia's new album Walk With Me by now, even though it doesn't drop for another month or two. Hopefully this isn't a repeat Rachel Stevens situation (No. 10 placing, extremely advanced leak, album bombing). Jamelia has more media buzz; i've even seen her on the cover of UK Cosmopolitan imported into Waldenbooks.
Window Shopping - Hot uptempo tune. For some reason it kind of reminds me of Mis-Teeq, although a bit more pop. Maybe it's the great sound effects?
No More - Very waltz-sounding midtempo. I actually think the harpsichord backing gets overbearing and a bit annoying at times, but it's very unique for a song in 2006. Got It So Good - One of the uplifting r&b pop tracks that have been coming out of the UK for the past year or so. I'd compare it to Maria Lawson's "Sleepwalking" and Simon Webbe's "No Worries", because although it doesn't actually have a sample effect like those do, it has a similar vibe. I love this kind of song, and this is no exception. La La Love - This is probably the song on the album that sounds the most like "Something About You", with the rocky influences. The pre-chorus that goes in the chorus is great.
I'm not posting "Beware of the Dog" because a) you've probably already heard it, and b) I want the Brits among here to buy it so she doesn't flop.
Still looking for the Melissa Lefton CD...seems as if i've misplaced it, huge packrat that I am. I'll post whenever I find it. I'm going to keep up this blog, I swear, although sometimes it looks like i'm neglecting it. Also coming soon (whichever definition that is): another batch of pop remixes and Tyler James.
A note to leave on: LaToya Jackson's unreleased album Startin' Over, featuring the hilarious, bad lyric filled single "Just Wanna Dance". Cheesy dance pop with bad vocals and some half-assed melodies. Sure, it sucks, but it can't be any worse than her sister's 20 Y.O. Not that it's ending up on my iPod or anything, but I could see someone out there genuinely enjoying this, and I deal with enough shit for my own music taste without throwing stones. "C'est La Vie" isn't bad in a utterly dated way.
No matter where you're reading from, I just wanted to say this:
Songs like the ones I post are especially catharic on a day like today. I don't know how I was able to get by for awhile right after September 11th, 2001 without pop music. Maybe it's like sticking your head in the sand, but for me it makes me feel alive at a time when those responsible want the polar opposite. Honestly, while I don't like to bring politics into this blog, sometimes I need that kind of escape from what I keep up on. A good song can bring hope, however frivolous it seems. Not to be flip, but it makes it seem like terrorists "can't hold us down", in the immortal words of Christina Aguilera.
At the time, Enrique Iglesias' "Hero" was adopted as an anthem of sorts, although the song itself has absolutely nothing to do with the firefighters, police officers, and others that risked their lives to help others. It's just a testament to how any simple love song can be take on a new meaning depending on the circumstances.
Hero (Metro Mix) - While I think there's a time for reflection, there's also an opportunity to dream and soar. Not that this is a happy ocassion by any means, but (this is especially directed towards to the Americans, but for everybody) we've got to keep on living. Sorry for being corny, but this uptempo dance-ish remix makes the song 100x better, and I prefer it to the original ballad, especially when said ballad is juxtaposed with news clips.
Stephanie McIntosh is on Neighbours, the Australian soap opera (also popular in the UK) that helped launch the pop careers of Kylie Minogue, Natalie Imbruglia, and Delta Goodrem. She has her own reality show chronicling the creation of her album like Ashlee Simpson. She kind of sounds like Hilary Duff, but better. She's even related to Kylie's 80s sometimes-duet partner Jason Donovan. And she just came out with a damn good pop album named Tightrope. The first single, the watered-down Clarksonesque "Mistake" (better in its remixed form) is a hit in her homeland, but it's nowhere near the best song. Here are some of my favorites.
Tightrope - The second single from the album, an electro-pop influenced song with the rocking chorus common in both this album and pop today, but it sounds different from the rest of the tracks. It serves the Autobiography role, in that it's both the title of the album and the theme song to her show. Hopefully she doesn't get caught lipsynching while attempting to perform it on TV. ;)
Wishing and Hoping - An uptempo take on the Dusty Springfield classic, given a makeover for 2006. Some could consider this version sacreligious, but I really like it. You Don't Love Me - The strings are a nice touch to the formula, with a really catchy chorus.
God Only Knows - Not a Beach Boys cover, and very good. It's one of the more attitude-filled songs, and it's under three minutes long!
So Do I Say Sorry First - Probably the fastest-paced song on the album. This must be a single at some point. It's a bigger stormer than anything the Duff has recorded, and any emo-pop band would want the instrumental for themselves.
The Night of My Life and Untitled bonus track - Both sweet, acoustic ballads that show off the pretty voice that might not be in evidence on some other parts of the album. I'm mainly posting them because the album itself contains a few minutes of silence in between both, and edited them both because I can't be wasting precious hard drive space on my iPod for blank noise. The untitled track is airy and slightly faster, and I kind of think it sounds almost reminicent of being in a field of flowers or something wierd like that.
I highly reccommend the entire album. Other good tracks include "Overcome", "Sink Like a Stone", and upcoming 3rd single "You Should Have Lied", but it's really all good, especially if you enjoy the songs I posted.
So Ernesto was basically nothing. A tropical storm that did nothing but cancel classes for two days, thank God. The power didn't go out and i'm fine, it's just me getting into my school and crap. I do still plan to keep up this blog though, believe it or not. Sometimes my updates get a bit sporadic and please forgive me for that. People still visit every once in awhile and that makes me happy.
anonymous, i'm not all that familiar with 911 except hearing a track or two of theirs on imported compilations, and that one of their members is participating in the same Totally Boyband disaster as Bradley from S Club 7 and formerly Lee of Steps, the latter of whom was fired from the group for being "useless", like they didn't know that going in judging from his contribution or lack thereof to Steps (he's not even hot anymore). I can't make any guarantees, and I don't formally take requests for the most part, but if someone asks about something in the comments i'll see what I can do.
Tomorrow i'll be posting some tracks from the new Stephanie McIntosh album, so look out for that. It's really cool. Jamelia is all over the pop blogosphere at the moment, with good reason, and i'll post some of her songs too. I'm also going to post the entire Melissa Lefton album in the next few days.
For now, here's a track that didn't make it onto Nelly Furtado's Loose album. I Am - It's a great song but doesn't really fit the rest of the album, as it doesn't seem to have been produced by Timbaland. More poppy than most of what did make it.
And you know I couldn't resist posting the full stream of Clay Aiken's albumA Thousand Different Ways. Some of the arrangements have been changed up. You might hate it, you might love it, but what the hell.