Archive for July, 2013

Vocal Spotlight: Dreamlover by Mariah Carey (20th anniversary)

Posted in Mariah Carey, Songs, Vocal Spotlight with tags , , , , , , on July 27, 2013 by Ain't No Other Tan

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20 years ago, one of Mariah Carey’s most popular and biggest hits, “Dreamlover” (her 7th No.1 single in the US) was released. It was the first single from her third album, “Music Box”, which went on to sell an estimated 30 million copies worldwide, making it her most successful album to date. “Dreamlover” – which is more “pop” than any of her other singles she had released before, with a bit of soft soul and R&B elements – showcases Mariah’s softer, more carefree and less showy vocals but at the same time still manages to showcase her wide range (over 3 octaves), unique tone and great technique.

The song may not be a huge vocal challenge for Mariah herself, but her soaring, sweeping voice rides along nicely with the instrumentation and is still enough to make you feel in awe of her talent. Mariah is known for adding in the use of her adept whistle register in practically every other song, but on this one she doesn’t overdo it and reins it in tastefully, only doing it at the beginning and along with the hook at the end of the chorus. She performed it many a time live during promotion of the single and album and has done since then, but rarely added in most of the whistles. I tried to find a good live version of the song to post but since some were dubbed over, I instead chose the David Morales Def Club Radio Edit Mix because I really like it. Mariah re-recorded another version of the song and made it more upbeat, funkier and more vocally aggressive for this dance remix, which although has no whistle notes, it does give her the chance to show off her brilliant use of melisma (without going overboard again). It’s a shame she never performed a live version of this song!

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Fifteen songs by Christina Aguilera that should have been singles

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 21, 2013 by Ain't No Other Tan

A lot of Christina Aguilera fans have in the past, not always agreed with what singles she (or the label) decide to release – or don’t release, as the case may be in many cases. So here is my rundown of fifteen songs (1-2 from each album), which I think would have made great singles and done well on the charts, going by how popular they are with fans and critics, and how good they are when you look at them from a commercial point of view. Let me know below if you agree with my choices or what your picks would be!

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Self-titled début

So Emotional

Christina performed this song quite often during this era and it has that soft R&B sound that was popular in 90s to it that could have appealed to many.

Obvious

I read somewhere that Christina said this was her favourite song from the album, but I don’t think she ever performed it live, which is a shame because vocally it’s great and would have been another ballad to show off her talent and potential at the beginning of her career to further separate her from her lessor contemporaries (*cough* Britney *cough*). Although, admittedly, musically the song is a tad boring.

Mi Reflejo

El Beso del Final (“The Final Kiss”)

A beautiful song with beautiful vocals, although quite similar to the single “Pero Me Acuerdo De Ti”.

Cuando No Es Contigo (“When I’m Not With You”)

If you don’t know Spanish you’d probably be mistaken for thinking this song is a happy one, but apparently it’s not. I love the music that is quite good to dance to, very reminiscent of Shakira’s song “Objection (Tango)”.

My Kind of Christmas

This Christmas

On this album Christina began showcasing her blue, jazz and soul influences and her version of “This Christmas” was a good example of that. “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” would also have been a good choice, since she performed it quite often.

Stripped

Impossible

Christina wanted this song to be the fifth single from the album instead of “The Voice Within”, but the label’s influence finally won and while that song is great as well, the Alicia Keys-penned “Impossible” could have helped her get into the urban market after the popularity and success of “Can’t Hold Us Down”.

Soar

Always a firm favourite with pretty much every fan out there, “Soar” is similar to “The Voice Within” but with more soul and gospel influences.

Back To Basics

Slow Down Baby

The jazzy, R&B track “Slow Down Baby” is one of the album’s standout tracks, particularly on the first CD and its very urban feel would have gone down well. The gospel-influenced “Makes Me Wanna Pray and funky “Here To Stay”, which was used on a Pepsi commercial would also have been good choices.

Nasty Naughty Boy

“Nasty Naughty Boy” continues to show Christina’s passion for sexually-charged songs in this era, although from the second album there weren’t many other songs that could have done as well commercially. The bluesy “I Got Trouble” and the gorgeous “Save Me From Myself” would have helped show off her softer side, especially when it comes to singing.

Keeps Gettin’ Better: A Decade of Hits

Dynamite

In my opinion, “Dynamite” was a better song than “Keeps Gettin’ Better” – the whole beat and sound, production, the lyrics and the restrained and relatively unprocessed vocals were, well, dynamite.

Bionic

Desnudate (“Get Naked”)

The Euro-pop sound of “Desnudate” had a lot of commercial appeal, particularly beyond just the US, where Christina didn’t venture out to to promote the album. It also showed her singing parts in Spanish, which a lot of people love her doing. “Prima Donna” and “Vanity” would also have been great choices, though their “boastful” lyrics may not have sat well with critics.

Stronger Than Ever

To be honest, there aren’t a lot of great ballads that would have suited being singles from this album but the emotional, rock-tinged “Stronger Than Ever” would have been the best contender. Unfortunately, it was only included on the deluxe edition of the album on the second CD so didn’t really stand a chance of being recognised  as much as others. The Linda Perry-penned track “Life Me Up” and the honest “I Am” may also have worked.

Burlesque soundtrack

Show Me How You Burlesque

Probably her best song on this album, this song was leaked months before the film was released and was an instant hit amongst fans who loved the music and the vocals. It charted in a few countries despite no official release, and actually performed better than the promo single “Express”.

Lotus

Army of Me

“Army of Me” screams “classic Xtina song” and was immediately a favourite of many fans and critics who hailed it as a follow-up to “Fighter”. Other good choices include “Sing For Me”, “Blank Page”, “Best of Me”, “Light Up the Sky” and “Empty Words”, though unfortunately the latter two were only included on the deluxe version.

Let There Be Love

A far better song than “Your Body” (although it wasn’t bad), “Let There Be Love” has again, been critically acclaimed. It’s a shame that despite the fact the song hit the No.1 spot on the Billboard Dance and Club Songs chart (a great feat when she hasn’t promoted it since November), the song was still left untouched. “Make The World Move” and “Around The World” could also have been decent singles.

Vocal Spotlight: Come As You Are by Beverley Knight

Posted in Female Vocalists, Live Performances, Music, Songs with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 11, 2013 by Ain't No Other Tan

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Beverley Knight has always been one of my favourite female vocalists with her amazing voice that could put the likes of Adele and Leona in their seats and a strong gospel-influenced sound and soulful flavour to her music. It’s always baffled me at how she is still so underrated and relatively unknown throughout even the UK, let alone the world, compared to them and others.

Of her many songs that feature elements of pop, gospel, soul, funk, jazz and blues music, 2004’s “Come As You Are” (no, not the Nirvana song) – from the album “Affirmation” – is one of my favourites and is probably her biggest hit to date (it peaked at No.9 in the UK) alongside “Shoulda Woulda Coulda”, “Keep This Fire Burning” and her version of Erma Franklin’s “Piece Of My Heart”. This upbeat, rock-tinged soul and funk song, co-written by Robbie Williams’ right-hand man Guy Chambers, is reminiscent of old-school James Brown, with a more modern feel to it that fitted well, commercially speaking. When you listen to the song you can’t help but want to sing, clap and tap your feet along with it, particularly the middle eight, which has gospel shouts that hark back to Knight’s roots, and she really gets into it and gives it her all when she performs it live (see below). “Summer’s begun” the lyrics say, and yes, it really is a brilliant, soulful summer track. However, it’s her vocals that really shine throughout and prove her prowess and talent as one of Britain’s best – I mean, check out the G#5 she belts out with perfect technique, a great tone, as well as clarity, resonance and a lot of power that even Jessie J would be in awe of, for proof of her abilities.

And lastly, check out this amazing remix with a new vocals that she did and hits an effortless A5. Need I say or show you more?

Top Twenty Favourite Male Vocalists (11 to 20)

Posted in Male Vocalists with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 7, 2013 by Ain't No Other Tan

Continued from previous post:

11) R Kelly

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A lot of people think of R Kelly as another average hip-hop artist, but he is so much more than that and on quite a few occasions has shown to be a really good singer and all-round solid musician. Not a lot of guys in the urban music industry these days are great vocalists and not many of them have a tone as nice, soulful and unique as R Kelly’s, making him the King of R&B today.

12) Lenny Kravitz

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Lenny Kravitz is similar to one of his biggest musical influences, Jimi Hendrix – a rare black rockstar with a really good, yet underrated voice. Lenny has a good mix of soul as well as that great, classic rock tone to his voice that he can add for stylistic purposes when needed, or keep it clean and smooth if he prefers.

13) Michael Jackson

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Michael Jackson may have been known as the King of Pop, but there probably aren’t that many people who would say he has a fantastic voice. Wrong! Ok, he wasn’t sublime, but he sure could sing – especially when he was younger and stuck to singing soul and Motown records, before moving into pop, dance and disco.

14) Prince

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Prince is a vocalist who really knows how to use his voice and change it for whatever style is needed to be sung, be it rock, soul and R&B, funk, jazz and blues or synth and electropop. He has lovely, sweet and sultry tone most of the time but when he lets loose for big, high notes, he can really blow you away.

15) Jon Bon Jovi

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Jon Bon Jovi has the ultimate classic rock voice – full of soul, energy and grit, with a raw rasp to it. A lot of rock singers seem to use very questionable vocal techniques that sound unhealthy and are not to everyone’s taste but Jon Bon Jovi always seems to be a firm favourite with a lot of people, and even after all these years of doing what he does best, his voice is still in tact.

16) George Michael

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One of the main men when it comes to personifying “white man soul”. He may be more known for his camp, fun pop and disco tunes but George Michael is actually a very great singer, with a wide vocal range and smooth, quite sultry tone to his voice.

17) Usher

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I must admit I am not a fan of the recent Usher who has sold out his soul and R&B roots after his “Confessions” album for generic pop-dance songs (and of course, working with that annoying Justin Bieber), but before that he was a fantastic musician with an extremely flexible voice and one hell of a sexy tone, and was a good rival for the King of R&B title back in the day.

18) Seal

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Seal’s rich, deep and soulful voice was, sorry for the cliché description- velvety smooth like chocolate. He reminds me of a modern-day Barry White, but less boring.

19) Justin Timberlake

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A lot of people probably just see Justin as someone who just has a high voice who likes to sing in falsetto all the time, which I guess is quite true, but he is in fact a pretty good singer, and any guy who can sing half a song in falsetto deserves some credibility.

20) Michael Bublé

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With a warm, smooth and rather gorgeous, playful tone to his voice, it’s easy to see why Michael Bublé is so popular (asides from his looks) as he puts his own unique twist to retro jazz and blues classics and has that cool, old-school sound that is very rare on the charts these days (although his mannerisms in his performances are a bit strange…).