Wednesday, July 28, 2010

WHAT IN THE WORLD HAPPENED TO. . .

                                            LAURYN HILL?


Last seen: MTV Unplugged No. 2.0 (2002)

She seemed destined for a long and successful career in music but after releasing her live album eight years ago, she pretty much disappeared from the public eye. What happened to Lauryn Hill?

She started her career as an actress, appearing on the soap opera, "As The World Turns" and in films like, "Sister Act 2" and Steven Soderbergh's "King of the Hill" before focusing on music.

In high school, she met Prakazrel "Pras" Michel and his cousin, Wyclef Jean and together they formed a musical group called The Fugees which was short for "The Refugee Camp".  They released two albums but it was their second one, "The Score" (1996) that brought the band world wide acclaim. The Fugees won two Grammy Awards for the album, which included Best R&B Vocal By A Duo Or Group for their hit remake of the Roberta Flack classic, "Killing Me Softly With His Song".

In 1998, Lauryn Hill completed her first solo record, "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill" which was partly prompted by her frustrations within the Fugees. She took what she had done with her band and pushed it forward, creating a near perfect album that combined rap, reggae and hip hop beats with touches of classic soul throughout.

The album was a monster hit topping the Billboard album and R&B album charts and would go on to sell eighteen million copies. She received ten Grammy Award nominations and would go to win five of them, including Best New Artist and Album Of The Year. This was the most nominations and wins by a female artist ever in one year.

She became a media sensation and appeared on a wide range of magazine covers including Time. She soon became disenchanted with her new found fame and the music industry and retreated. She stayed away from the public for a few years, trying to refocus her life on her family and other creative outlets.

In 2001, she resurfaced and performed new material for a small audience for MTV. The concert was essentially a guitar, her voice and songs that focused on her thoughts on religion, society and love. An album of that concert was released the following year and although it was not critically praised, it did manage to sell over a million copies.

The Fugees attempted to come back together in 2004, which included an appearance at the 2005 BET Award show, a European tour, a Hollywood reunion concert in 2006 and a few leaked songs before old tensions flared back up, causing the group to disband, apparently for good in 2007.

There have been rumours that Lauryn Hill has been working on her follow-up album since 2004 and has made sporadic concert appearances over the years but not much has really come together.

Here are a few of my favorite songs off of her first album:

Lost Ones - Lauryn Hill

Everything Is Everything - Lauryn Hill

Nothing Even Matters - Lauryn Hill & D'Angelo


This is the beautiful music video for her song, "Ex-Factor":



This song, "Repercussions" has popped up on the internet but no one seems to know whether it is actually a new song or some older material but it is a good tune. It makes me hopeful that she will release a new CD sometime real soon.

Repercussions - Lauryn Hill

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

HOT & FRESH OUT THE KITCHEN

Here are a few of my favorite new releases:

KELIS - FLESH TONE


Kelis is not afraid to experiment with different sounds and with her last four albums, she has featured r&b, pop and hip hop but now with the release of her fifth, "Flesh Tone (Amazon MP3 Exclusive Version)" she is using dance and electronica. She enlisted the help of producers and DJ's like David Guetta, Benny Benassi and Will.i.am. to collaborate on this record which features songs that will stimulate your mind and your body.

It's off to a great start with the first single, "Acapella" already topping the US dance charts. She will be on tour called All Hearts with Robyn this summer, so be sure to check them out.

Here is another song that I really like:

Scream And Shout - Kelis


SCISSOR SISTERS - NIGHT WORK


Jake Shears, Ana Mantronic, Randy Real, Del Marquis and Babydaddy are the Scissor Sisters and they are back with their third album, "Night Work". They have returned to their roots of dark and moody music for the dance floor that is still sexy and fun.

While the Scissor Sisters have topped the charts in Europe, they haven't been able to achieve that success in the U.S.but this record looks like it could be their best opportunity yet. They are well known for their wild live shows, so catch them while they tour across America.

Here is a great tune off of the new album:

Any Which Way - Scissor Sisters

ROBYN - BODY TALK PART ONE



This Swedish electro-pop artist has returned with "Body Talk Pt. 1 (Amazon MP3 Exclusive Version) [Explicit]", the first of a planned trilogy of albums she plans to release this year.

She first came on the scene as a teenager in 1997 with, "Robyn Is Here" and had a couple of top ten hits here in the US. Although she was still making music after that, she didn't reappear here until over ten years later with an U.S. edition of her album, "Robyn [Explicit]" in 2008.

I saw her on tour when she was promoting her last CD and she really puts on a great show, so by all means see her in concert with Kelis when they come to your city.

Enjoy this song off of the album:

Fembot - Robyn

KYLIE MINOGUE - APHRODITE


This Australian singer/actress has been making music since 1987 and has remained a world wide sensation ever since. She has just released her eleventh CD, "Aphrodite" which features more of the high energy, dance-pop music that we love from her.

Although she has had a few top ten hits here in the U.S. over the years, she is still much more well known elsewhere in the world, considering she has sold over sixty million albums but hopefully this latest record will change that in this country.

Here is a taste of what she does best:

Get Outta My Way - Kylie Minogue

I'm also including the sexy and provocative music video for the first single, "All The Lovers":


Kylie Minogue - All The Lovers
Uploaded by EMI_Music.


THE LIKE - RELEASE ME



"Release Me" is only The Like's second studio album but they have been around since 2001, having released several independent EPs in the meantime. This all-female alternative rock band has teamed up with producer Mark Ronson, which together they have given this new record a retro rock-pop vibe.

Here is a song from the new release:

Fair Game - The Like

Monday, July 5, 2010

FOCUS ON: LUTHER VANDROSS


Luther.

You know exactly who it is from that name alone. When you hear that name, you instantly think of smooth and sensual soul music that could either get you on your feet to dance or put you in a sexy mood. Sometimes, he would do both in the same song.

I was a fan since the time I heard his first single, "Never Too Much" until his last hit, "Dance With My Father" and I have always admired how Luther Vandross used his unique voice to create his own style of classic r&b or take a familiar tune and interpret it in to a fresh new direction.

Distinctly Luther.

He was born in New York City in 1951 and was part of a musical family. His sister, Patricia was part of a singing group called The Crests but dropped out before they began recording and Luther, who started playing the piano at the age of three, was part of the group, Shades of Jade while in high school. They even once played at the Apollo theater.

After a year at Eastern University in Michigan, Luther decided to pursue music as his career full time.

He first started off as a background singer and contributed to many recordings by artists like Roberta Flack, Chaka Khan, Bette Midler, Barbra Streisand, Carly Simon and David Bowie. It was with Bowie that he made an impact during the recording of his album, "Young Americans" (1975). Luther arranged all of the background vocals and even co-wrote a song on the album with Mr. Bowie, "Fascination". He would later go on tour with Bowie as a background vocalist. Luther also wrote a song, "Everybody Rejoice" for the Broadway play, "The Wiz - The Super Soul Musical: Original Cast Album (1975 Broadway Cast)" in 1975.

Luther's first big opportunity came when he joined the studio creation, Change, a disco music act put together by Jacques Petrus in 1979. Mr. Vandross sang lead on their songs, "The Glow Of Love", "Searching (LP Version)" and "A Lovers Holiday (Remastered 12" Version)", all number one hits on the U.S. dance charts.
He left the group and signed with Epic Records in 1981 to begin working on his first solo record. "Never Too Much" was released later that year and the title track went to number one on the R&B charts. He also did his version of the Dionne Warwick classic, "A House Is Not A Home". He was a big fan of Ms Warwick's and he would go on to produce songs for her albums as well as do a hit duet with her, "How Many Times Can We Say Goodbye?" in 1983. He did many classic duets with other artists like Cheryl Lynn, Janet Jackson, Gregory Hines, Beyonce and Frank Sinatra. He would also produce albums for his other idols like Aretha Franklin and Diana Ross.

Mr. Vandross released a total of thirteen albums during his career and sold over twenty five million copies. He had much success in topping the R&B charts, in fact he had a top ten hit every year from 1981 thru 1994, but success on the pop charts was much more of a challenge, which disappointed him. His appearance there was very sporadic and his highest charting song was his 1994 remake of "Endless Love (Duet with Mariah Carey)", reaching as high as number two on the charts.

Shortly after completing his last album, "Dance With My Father" in 2003, Mr. Vandross suffered a stroke. He had diabetes and hypertension, his father died of complications of diabetes when Luther was eight, as well as his extreme weight loss and gain over the years may have contributed to this. He did manage to recover to see the success of this record. It was his first album to reach number one on the U.S. pop charts and was also his biggest seller, at three million copies sold. The title track won him his fourth Grammy award for Best R&B Vocal Performance as well winning Song of the Year in 2004. He made an appearance on the program via videotape to accept the award.

Sadly, Luther Vandross passed away on July 1, 2005 from an apparent heart attack but his collection of timeless, beautiful songs are still with us so that people may continue to enjoy them for many years to come.

Here is a selection of my favorite songs by Mr.Vandross:

Never Too Much.mp3

A House Is Not A Home.mp3

She Loves Me Back.mp3

If This World Were Mine(Duet With Cheryl Lynn).mp3




ICONA POP ARE "GIRLS GIRLS"

Those Swedish musical party-girls, Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo, otherwise known as  Icona Pop are back with a new club-banging anthem. ...