This past year has been a bountiful one for pop comebacks. Pink reclaims her position in the United States as radio's best bad-ass pop/rock chick (while never usurping it internationally), and Scooch (?!?) of all acts return with a top 5 single in the UK. Rosie Ribbons (whose real last name I can't find, because I refuse to believe anybody would genuinely have that surname) is possibly shaping up to be another comeback story. I'm happy she's giving it another try after disappearing off the face of the earth for awhile. First, let's go to the beginning of the first stage of her pop career.
In Late 2002, fresh off the very first Idol program in Britain (which you can thank or curse for its various spawn), the Australian-born Rosie released her first single, the attitude-r&b/poppy "Blink". It was known for being punchy, but more so for featuring the word "pissing" (as in "pissing me off") in the chorus, which radio stations hilariously found inappropriate (what is this? America?) and therefore limited its airplay somewhat.
Blink (Rishi Rich "Urban Rose" Remix) - This mix was initially sent out as a promo without identification, and was actually played on urban radio stations before they found out it was by some white girl from a reality show. It features new vocals! Still, it's essentially the same song, though the sound is more smoothed out and chilled with a hip-hop beat, and it's a good song in it' own right. (Sorry for the snippets of other songs at the beginning and end - it's from a mixed compilation)
Now she's made it to the final 24 of the new season of Australian Idol! There might be an issue of unfairness there because of her prior record deal and Idol history, but I personally don't see a big problem with it. First off, her run on Pop Idol and her brief (so far) recording career was based in the UK, so all but a few Australians would be not familiar with her, unless they are overseas pop obsessives like myself. Plus, she wasn't even that successful! She had a pair of top 20 singles when almost every fledgling pop act in the early '00s could manage to sneak in there, and she made an exit in 6th place on Idol after her infamous performance of "The Winner Takes It All". (I actually don't think it's that bad until she gets near the end. She's no ABBA, of course.) I saw a preview of her Australian Idol audition on YouTube, and I don't think she sang "Colours", the cheesy-but-sweet original song she wrote herself that sailed her through her first audition with the Pop Idol judges. Pete Waterman loved it!
Rosie actually got to release two singles, which is one more than the girl who beat her by a couple of places on Pop Idol, Zoe Birkett. She also served as the opening act for tours by Blue and Liberty X. Then before her album Misbehaving dropped, her label Telstar folded, which also impacted Mis-Teeq and Victoria Beckham among others. But unlike Posh, she didn't marry a huge rest-of-the-world football star, so she eventually settled back in Australia, while her debut album quietly leaked onto the internet. Here are some highlights: Trusted - This features loud guitars, but it's more Britney "Stronger"-esque than Kelly Clarkson. If Paris Hilton insisted on making another album (please, no) and still hadn't made up with Nicole Richie, this ode to an ex-friend would be a great choice to use, though they'd have to reduce the vocal range.
No Space to Rent - I hear some Arabic influence in this (masked by electronics), I don't know why. It's a kiss-off song along the lines of "Blink". The chorus has some double entendres. ;) Even Angels - This slows it down a bit. It's a bit like an S Club 7 ballad, but slightly more soul-based. An orchestra also comes into play, and I don't really care if it's real or canned because it fits perfectly. And then the end sounds sort of Delta Goodrem-ish.
This is the video for her second (and final, so far) single, the recycled Jessica Simpson song "A Little Bit". I don't know whether I like her version better or not. Rosie's version lacks the annoying bits where Jessica would sing a line and then speak the end of it, which always bugged me. But does anyone know who the rappers are?
I honestly think part of the reason Rosie wasn't more successful is because of her absolutely tragic styling. Her makeup and clothing are especially bad in this video. I know they were promoting her as "edgy" and everything (especially with the promo pics for this single - "Oooh! She's smoking a cigarette while standing under a 'no smoking' sign! Look, she's exiting the men's bathroom!), but the low-riding pants with something that looks like a pink jock strap going across her stomach is inexcusable.
Anyway, now that Rosie is rising again to semi-prominence, how about releasing more than the first 20 seconds of her cover of Dee-Lite's "Groove is in The Heart"? However, I wouldn't suggest a re-release of Misbehaving because it sounds kinda dated by now. But if you don't mind that, I definitely recommend the whole album if you can get a hold of it.
More tracks from Rosie's album are available on AcerBen's blog, including "Colours", intended third single "Good Thing" (awesome, catchy with '80s influences...some of the synths sound like slower freestyle, a la "What You Don't Know" by Expose), and "Heaven" (Not a Bryan Adams cover, a pretty mid-tempo with nice horns, came up when my iPod was on shuffle today and inspired this post), along with the Rishi Rich urban remix of "Blink" that features new, alternate vocals from the original version, and which I actually own on a Pure R&B compilation. He is also the founder of the Rosie Ribbons fan site (there's pretty much just one...so far...if you see one, you've found it).
Next post will be on another female singer who is completely different.
Kate Nash covers one of two good songs off the last Beyonce album. How about a Sugababes remake of "Upgrade U" next?
On a not so amazing note, somebody was nice enough to sign up for the update mailing list, but my dumb ass deleted them by accident when trying to approve them to put it on it. So please sign up again!
Last year, one of my favorite songs was "Girl Next Door" by Saving Jane. It had a great melody, great vocals, and lyrics that were relatable to a lot of people (yes, including myself). Lead singer Marti Dodson wasn't model-pretty, but in her own way her looks were striking, perfect for pop stardom. The single was so good that the band were picked up by a major label for a re-release of their latest album featuring that song. MTV even used it as a theme song for several of their dumb, completely non-music related reality shows! However, things didn't work out and they decided to go back to the indie route for their new album One Girl Revolution, which isn't really an "indie-sounding" album, although who knows what the hell that means anymore? Anyway, the album drops this Tuesday.
Loser - I love this. It has the tongue in cheek quality of an upbeat "punky" Avril Lavigne without the brattiness and nasal vocals. It's somewhat "Since U Been Gone"-esque with the woman being happy to be free of her idiotic ex. There are some great lyrics: "You'll be glad to know I sold your ring for extra cash." Heh.
Better Day - Very upbeat and catchy pop-rock. For some reason it reminds me of some of Billy Mann's production, like "With You" by Jessica Simpson. It doesn't really sound the same but has the same sunny vibe.
Let Me Down Easy - This track is a bit more melancholy. I like the mix of guitars, pianos, and even some electronic effects. It's really a song that could work in any form...in the hands of another artist it could be an r&b pop number and be equally good. In this song you can hear one of the male members of the band actually sing, and he and Marti do a bit of back-and-forth response singing to each other at the end.
Ohio - A bit more "pure pop" and not as heavy on the guitars (although there are some orchestral effects on this mid-tempo), this song is about leaving to follow your dream and missing your family and friends back home. Corny but sweet. Surprisingly, there aren't that many pop songs about this subject, though it's a running theme in country music (Sugarland's "Baby Girl", Carrie Underwood's "Don't Forget To Remember Me"). Not surprisingly, the band hails from Ohio. :P It shows some vulnerability...she even apologizes to her parents for getting tattoos but still stands her ground.
Writing on the Wall - This is one of those "ballads with a beat" that I love. The lyrics are about a relationship falling apart due to her boyfriend's alcoholism, and it's emotional without sounding preachy or self-pitying.
The album also features the lead single and title track manifesto against the shallow, looks, sex, and stupidity-centered expectations of female pop stars (available to listen to at their MySpace). It's fine, but when it comes to these proto-feminist anthems Pink did it better with "Stupid Girls".