Tuesday, July 28, 2009

the truth and beauty about new pop prospects

Some of the best, new, pop music stars start out with less than stellar chart performances. Sometimes their success takes a more circuitous route than they would like or expect. Pop history is sprinkled with acts that sputtered out of the gate only to go on to have a glorious, sparkling career.

This year, I've been keeping tabs on Frankmusik and Paloma Faith, two artists who have piqued my interest for being slightly different than the average, torchbearers in the pop parade. For every La Roux and Little Boots that busts out of the gate, there are others that don't catch fire as quickly no matter how much routing they get from the sidelines or money gets thrown into their promotion. But that doesn't mean it's all over for them.

So far, two singles have preceded Frankmusik's major label debut, "Complete Me". The funky, "Better Off As Two" was the first, official single peaking at a lackluster #26.

Before that single, the manic "3 Little Words", replete with "Big" inspired video, surfaced to the delight of many fans.

This week, second single, "Confusion Girl", enters the UK singles chart at a rather disappointing #29.

With a support slot on Pet Shop Boys' current UK shows, Frankmusik certainly has the right profile and critical acclaim that would seem to guarantee a splashy debut and numerous hit singles. However, it doesn't seem like the plan is working as effectively as it could.

Frankmusik walks a fine line between quirky, electronic boffin and your average, pop star next door. It's a delicate balance in the fickle world of pop music which could easily tip in his favor. His songs are very much melody driven with the production more window dressing than . You can hear the lineage straight down from 80s pioneers Nik Kershaw and Howard Jones without him ever sounding like he's aping them.

"Complete Me", his forthcoming longplayer, is due to drop on August 3.

Another tremendous talent from the United Kingdom is Paloma Faith. Her debut single, "Stone Cold Sober", reached #17 this past June.

I like the imagery in the Sophie Muller directed vid. Rich reds, bolts of velvet and trowels of white foundation seem to be her trademark.

Paloma, without fail, gets tagged with Amy Winehouse comparisons. Labels are so desperate to duplicate the heartbroken, ciggies and booze success of "Back To Black" that they seem to forget that it's next to impossible to capture lightning in a bottle particularly when you're chasing after it.

Duffy, who has a sniff of late 60s, retro cool of the Lulu variety about her, approached success by being the cute, approachable yet ever-so-slightly aloof, blond, pub songstress. You know, the one from your graduating class that had a great voice given the appropriate material. Her debut, "Rockferry", was all black and white, scruffy sophistication. But she had solid songs to back up the voice.

"Mercy", clearly a signature song if there ever was one for a debut artist, had a bit of 007 urgency and sensuality about it that allowed her to stand out in a crowded field of Winehouse wannabes. In an attempt to inject a bit of rocket fuel into her career, Duffy's shark jump may have been her recent, bicycle riding, Coke commercial which put her on the path of attention grabbing, opportunist rather than soul stirring chanteuse.

Back to Paloma for a moment. Her debut single, the stroppy, strident, bluesy, horn fueled "Stone Cold Sober", has a little more meat around its ribs than most of the competition. Rather than present herself to the public as a bland, blonde songstress in the uninspiring, Pixie Lott vein, she has carefully constructed her style by combining her husky, vocal delivery and art deco, film star imagery with a beguiling mixture of equal parts vixen, siren, torch singer and fiery testimonial.

"Stone Cold Sober" bodes well for her forthcoming, thought provoking, debut album, the tantalizingly titled "Do You Want Truth Or Something Beautiful?" Oooooh! That's SO 2009.

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