Tag Archives: Electronica

Guess Who’s Coming To Guest Vocal?

I was walking to work the other day listening to my iPod when a recent purchase came on– “Ready for The Weekend” by Calvin Harris.  It’s a decent little party anthem but it really gets a much-needed kick from the guest vocalist–Mary Pearce (a British singer who has worked with powerhouses like Chaka Khan and Lionel Richie previously.)
This familiar and dancey delight led me to realize that it’s a common trick really…a very good trick…and today’s great thing:

109.  Nerdy white dance musicians employing black female vocalists to make their songs better

Here, let me show you what I mean.

It’s a pretty good song already.  Calvin Harris is a clever little Scottish dance music maestro.  He’s recently written some ace tracks for Kylie Minogue and Dizzee Rascal.  You’re happily toe-tapping along to this ditty…but once Mary Pearce’s vocals come in?  Zoom!  So much better…

Another good example of this music-boosting technique is Basement Jaxx’s “Good Luck”.    Felix and Simon of Basement Jaxx have pretty much mastered this technique as a matter of fact.  When considering their catalogue of dance classics, you’re really spoiled for choice if you’re looking for strong black female vocals.  You could go with “Red Alert” or “Right Here’s The Spot” or certainly “Oh My Gosh”,  but, Lisa Kekaula’s vocals on “Good Luck” are spine-tinglingly good.

Perhaps no conversation about dance hit vocals could be complete without discussing C + C Music Factory’s  “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)”.  It’s, sadly, not unusual for music video directors to cast lip-synching hotties in place of the actual vocalists for the video shoot.  But, one infamous case of this was when Zelma Davis lipsynched to Martha Walsh’s vocals on C + C Music Factory’s hit.  There was no need for this trickery really and the group only admitted the truth of who the vocals in this terrific track belonged to after it leaked to the press.  (Though to be fair, Davis WAS indeed one of several vocalists that C + C Music Factory employed, just not the one that sang the following vocals.)

Thinking on this, we really do put unreal expectations on folks.  I mean, sure, it would be great if we all had exactly the same measures of talent and were all exactly the same level of smoking hot-it-tude, but Botox and college are expensive.

I feel like Moby should be included in this little compilation except for the fact that I can’t think of a song of his with female vocals.  I feel like all the music he’s co-opted into his electronica is from black males…cool old blues tunes and spirituals, etc…

So, swim on White Whale.  Whilst you certainly qualify as a white nerd, you have escaped my clutches for now.


I didn't make the cut?

Three quickies to close out the proceedings here.

Shapeshifters’ “Lola’s Theme”, which features a gospel singer from the UK called Cookie (yay).

Junior Jack’s “Stupid disco”  IS basically the Pointer Sisters track “Dare Me” set to different beats:

Armand Van Helden’s “My My My”…to be fair, Van Helden not so white and geeky.  It is a good excuse for me to watch this video, however.

Any more for any more?


Filed under Music

15 Years Ago, You Might Have Seen This On MTV

I used to have an unquenchable thirst for dance electronica. Ministry of Sound could not release their annuals quickly enough for my needs. I’d troll record label and DJ sites for the best new music–gathering things I could put on a mix disc and fuel my travels around NYC like Armand Van Helden’s “You Don’t Know Me” and Hanayo’s remake of “Joe Le Taxi”. Fun! I’m in my early thirties now and comfortably nesting with my partner of 7.5 years. Perhaps because I’m not constantly on the prowl, going to clubs, or trying to be hip enough to land a girlfriend, I find that I don’t seek out too many dance tunes anymore. But dance music, like other guilty pleasures, is something that I’ll never completely eradicate from my listening diet. And why should I?

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Everyone needs a bit of dance music in their lives. In fact, one of my favorite purchases last year was the debut of disco-tastic Hercules and Love Affair. Dance music is more than just music to cruise to if you’re single. It’s music to work out to, music to clean house to, music that helps you understand iPod commercials.

And dance videos? They’re usually are ten times more innovative and fun than the standard crap you see from top 40 artists. This leads us to today’s great thing:

65. The Video For Sonny J’s “Handsfree (If You Hold My Hand)

You may (or may not– depending if you have a college radio station in your town) have heard Sonny J’s first single “Can’t Stop Movin'”. Sonny J’s real name is Sonnington James III, which is funny because ‘ington’ is what you add to names to make them more English sounding. Like, if I wanted to pretend to be gentry, I could be Kate McCabington of Castlefield. You see? Now you try your name. Throw a fancy location in at the end.

Anyway, the Liverpudlian DJ mashes up loads of samples (mostly throwbacks) to make some pretty sweet ditties. This is his third release and it’s a good one. The song is aptly described by its PR as the following (thanks to Internetdj.com for this): “an effortlessly addictive collage of northern soul, Morricone, and The Fifth Dimension, with an added splash of The Avalanches thrown in for good measure.”

The song is deeply indebted to its prime sample, “If You Hold My Hand” which was recorded by Donna Hightower originally in 1972.

If there’s one good thing about music samples, it’s that it provides exposure for some otherwise forgotten music. Enjoy this blog article here about the buried gem that is Donna: Donna Hightower


Flipside is I MADE MY BED. Good for you. What do you want, an allowance?

The video, as directed by Evan Creevy who has several other dance videos on his resume, is as delicious a mash-up as the source material. It’s got “Thriller”-style choreography, hot trailer park babes, and Sci-Fi radiation accidents. It’s been rightfully compared to a Quentin Tarantino wet dream. And, don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed aspects of Grindhouse, but this thing is really a much better length for that type of homage. Now, enough blogging. Here’s the video:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The weird thing is that after I heard this song, I totally and shamefully racially profiled the singer. Doesn’t it sound like some Loretta Lynn style white chick? It shocked me to learn otherwise. It’s a strange sensation but a good one. I like when people don’t look like they sound…except for radio DJs…like when they have great voices but wind up being completely fugly.  Always a devastating disappointment.

Here’s a homemade video from Turkey that I found on YouTube of the original track.

Anyway, back to that Sonny J video.  Why is that chick so hot?  I mean, you can barely see her face.  Is it the short shorts?

I hope they keep their promise and make a sequel for his next single.


Filed under Music, TV