Instead of Artist of the Week, this post should be titled, Artist You Are Hearing All Over Commercial Pop Radio. Unfortunately, making that latter a reality is not directly within our powers. It’s also a little wordy, and so we announce that our Artist of the Week is the incomparable Brittany Campbell.
Campbell is a singer, songwriter, and producer from New York. Sure, that describes a hundred thousand people. Campbell is better than them. Her music is the perfect storm of pop, soul, R&B, and rock. She cites Amy Winehouse, Blondie, Joni Mitchell, and Jimi Hendrix as influences. Do you really not want to get on that train? Is that how you want to live your life? Get it together, do the right thing, and listen to these songs.
Though she was only able to give us one major release before she left this world, Amy Winehouse did leave us with a collection of some of the most soulful modern rock-soul-R&B songs one could hope to hear. It was only a matter of time before those songs became fodder for cover, but who would have guessed the first big redux would come from a duo such as this?
As part of the continuing promotional push for the upcoming adaptation of The Grat Gatsby, a stream has been made available of Beyonce and Andre 3000²s rendition of the Winehouse classic, “Back In Black.” The song’s soulful arrangement has been gutted and replaced with wobbly synth and thick bass lines intended to modernize and hypnotize. You can stream the re-imagining below.
The Great Gatsby opens in theaters on May 10. The soundtrack, which features this cover, arrives a few days prior on May 7. (more…)
There have been hints and rumors for months that Adele was to pen and perform the theme for the most recent installment in the James Bond franchise, Skyfall. Hell, she apparently had a pretty good shot at doing the theme for 2008’s Quantum of Solace alongside fellow Brit soulstresses Leona Lewis and the late Amy Winehouse. While that honor eventually went to the duo of Jack White and Alicia Keys it looks like the film’s producers were nice enough to give the famously under-appreciated Adele another shot.
But really, Adele seems like a no-brainer for doing a Bond theme. She’s British, and Bond (and his actor surrogate Daniel Craig) is British. Plus you’re guaranteed some soul and some serious brass which harkens back nicely to some of the classic themes of the Bond franchise sung by Shirley Bassey. All of that is on display here though the track does start off sounding like a B side to “Set Fire To The Rain.”
Check out the lyric video for Adele’s theme for Skyfall, appropriately titled “Skyfall,” after the jump.
Drake must be the luckiest guy in music. He’s got an enviable portfolio of assets: looks, talent, street cred, excellent connections, gold and multi-platinum. Now the Canadian rapper has a beautiful woman, too”at least a controlling interest in her legacy. But is ownership of the next posthumous phase of Aaliyah’s career one benefit too many?
That’s what some are wondering as we approach the 11th anniversary (on August 25) of the death of Aaliyah, who was killed in a plane crash in the Bahamas in 2001, at age 22, cutting short one of the most promising careers in music. Since then, there’s been scant new material issued under her name. I Care 4 U, a posthumous album released in December of 2002, was followed by nearly a decade of silence.
Until now. Earlier this month, Drake unveiled a new Aaliyah track, Enough Said, credited to Aaliyah featuring Drake and produced by the rapper’s Take Care collaborator Noah 40 Shebib. There’s more: Drake has promised a new Aaliyah album, executive produced by himself and 40, with 13 or 14 tracks, to be released later this year.
But is it a true Aaliyah album if key players in her life and legacy”namely her immediate family”are left out of it? Her brother, Rashad Haughton, went so far as to deny the family’s involvement on Aaliyah’s Facebook fan page. There is no official album being released and supported by the Haughton family, he posted on August 7, several days after Drake released the new single. (more…)
For at least another year or two, all of the U.K.’s up-and-coming sisters (and brothers) with voices will have their work cut out for them. As if it’s not already tough enough to rise above the pop pack, they’ll also have to contend with all of those inevitable Adele comparisons.
Is she (or he) the next Adele, the future of U.K.-bred pop talent hoping to achieve global domination?
Admit it: You wonder, too”every time a great new voice emerges from the British music scene. With the ruling pop diva of the last two years now between albums (perhaps she’ll be back in the autumn singing the theme for the next James Bond film, Skyfall) and expecting her first child with boyfriend Simon Konecki, the battle is on for the keys to the kingdom that the princess hasn’t even yet vacated.
If you’ve got a great voice and/or a slightly unconventional pop sound and/or look, if you’re more substance than style, to the front of the line you go. It’s the latest greatest aspiration in pop since the days when it was all about being the next Amy Winehouse, whether you sounded anything like her or not. Challenging Adele might be as scary a proposition as walking in the late Winehouse’s scuffed shoes might have been (terrifying for reasons that had everything and nothing to do with Winehouse’s talent), but at least fans are in for some great music. Recently, I heard a Rumer (the off-the-beaten-pop-path singer behind 2010’s Seasons of My Soul and this year’s Boys Don’t Cry), and my first thought was “Is this it?”
Rumer isn’t the only talented singer who’s making me listen and wonder. Here are three others:
Emeli Sandé (Current hits: My Kind of Love and Next to Me) In June, a friend sent me the video for Sandé’s recent single, Next to Me, on Facebook, with a short and sweet message: love… After watching the clip, my first impression was Sara Bareilles with a really dated look. White on black is so mid-˜90s! My second impression: How is it that everybody all over the world doesn’t already know her name (which, incidentally, is actually Adele Emeli Sandé)? (more…)
The producers and the Fox network already have to worry about sagging ratings (the average viewership in season 11 dropped 23 percent to below 20 million for the first time in nine years, and the show fell from No. 1 for the season”to No. 2”for the first time since 2005), not to mention less commercially viable Idols and external competition from The Voice, The X Factor, and pretty much any reality show that promises to make a nobody a star.
Now, the producers have to deal with pleasing Mariah Carey, who has signed on as a judge next season, replacing either Jennifer Lopez or Steven Tyler, both of whom left after two years in order to focus full-time on their music careers (and in the case of Lopez, her “acting” career, too).
I once interviewed Carey for an Us Weekly cover story, and I found her to be warm, intelligent and surprisingly funny, but she’s a diva through and through. (She actually walked into the living room of her New York City hotel suite cradling her miniature dog!) Idol will reportedly pay her a very diva-like sum of between $12 and $17 million a season (a hefty and not altogether worthwhile expense, considering that Carey is well past her pop heyday), and I don’t even want to think about her list of perks and demands.
Meanwhile, there are murmurings that Randy Jackson, the last remaining original judge, currently in contract negotiations, might be moving from the judge’s table into more of a mentoring role, in an attempt to revamp the show for season 12, launching in January of 2013. Sadly, that restructuring doesn’t extend to Ryan Seacrest, the inexplicably still-highly employable host, who has signed up for another two years at a pay rate of $15 million per season. Is it too late to invite ex-judge Ellen DeGeneres back for the job they should have offered her in the first place?
You want untapped, gutsy, street cool? You go to Brooklyn. And if you’re lucky, you just might find an artist half as interesting as Brittany Campbell. The singer-songwriter/producer/guitarist cross-pollinates doo-wop, Motown, new wave and pop rock for a completely fresh and revelatory sound. Like Amy Winehouse, Debbie Harry and Santigold, Campbell’s an original. On Call Me Baby, vintage guitars strut against a beat while Campbell summons the soulful angst of a 1950s teen, singing There’ll be no mercy now / Wherever you are is where I’ll be. Nerd, with its handclaps, 8-bit synths and bouncing beat is instantly infectious even as the singer delivers dubious lines like, Guess you haven’t heard / God, I’m such a nerd. As if. Goody Goody is the track you’ll want to put on repeat. New wave synths, surf guitars and Campbell’s powerful voice make for a smart and sexy rocker with a vintage edge. Have mercy.