While she’s been busy recording the follow-up to 2010′s Endlessly, soulful UK songstress Duffy just uploaded a live rendition of “Trust In Me”–one of Etta James‘ many classics (and my personal favorite Etta James song)–in honor of the late singer’s birthday today, January 25.
Seated next to a white baby grand piano, Duffy delivers a gorgeous, powerful performance of the song, which was originally penned in 1937 and popularized by James back in 1961. I absolutely love this.
Rest in peace, Etta.
It’s a weird, awful phenomenon when an artist dies.
There’s the initial news reports, the disbelief, the outcry and sorrow from fans, the pandering by non-fans crawling out from the woodwork, the detractors, the well-intentioned wise words, the mean-spirited off-color jokes and everything else in between.
But with Amy Winehouse, it was different–for me at least–because there was a personal connection underneath it all. And while I don’t mean to discredit or devalue the loss of any pop culture figure, Amy was an invaluable part of my life–someone to whom I could readily point to as responsible for shaping my taste in music today.
Thereâ€™s a lot to be excited about when it comes to Alex Winston.
The Detroit native first appeared on my radar in January 2010 when buzz track â€œAnimal Babyâ€ started making the rounds on several blogs I like. Like much of Winstonâ€™s work, â€œAnimal Babyâ€ has a summery cheer that masks a darker emotional current; the songâ€™s real subject is weary disillusionment with an indecisive ex-lover, but when a songâ€™s spunky nonchalance is this effective, youâ€™d never even guess.
Her first single, â€œChoice Notes,â€ is a fuzzy, Spectorific slice of plucky piano pop that was infectious enough to merit inclusion in a European car commercial, but its B-side, â€œMedicine,â€ might be better still: Itâ€™s sad and stubborn, with an irresistible singalong chorus. Both tracks feature production from dance-pop duo The Knocks, who perfectly complement Winstonâ€™s distinctive, haunting vocals with the kind of subtle, quirky faux-Motown instrumentation that Amy Winehouse and Duffy would rather beat you over the head with. Winstonâ€™s retro-pop always sounds modern, never regressive.
So Iâ€™m more excited than ever with the release of â€œSister Wife,â€ the first single off of Winstonâ€™s forthcoming mini-album of the same name. Only Winston could do a song with a polygamy narrative and produce something winsome and charming, rather than clumsy and precious; there are layers of vocal â€œooh-ooohâ€s and aerobic drums and a big belter of a chorus (â€œHey there sister wife, get the hell out, itâ€™s my night!â€). Having already been championed by The Guardian and NME, Winstonâ€™s path to success seems obvious.
Download â€œSister Wifeâ€ for free via the reliably amazing Neon Gold Records.
The Sister Wife EP will be released via HeavyRoc Records on February 11. (iTunes)
These two are Nikki + Rich, a newly signed soul pop act from Warner Brothers Records.
While I was intrigued from the beginning, it was this slick, stylishly crafted intro video that sealed the deal for me.
And now, a brief summation:
Nikki & Rich are Nikki Leonti, a California-born pastorâ€™s daughter who grew up singing in church, and Rich Velonskis, a Queens, NY-born former DJ and established hip-hop/R&B producer who got his start spinning in New York City clubs as a teenager. These two seemingly opposite characters first met in 2007. Nikki was based in Nashville working as a background singer for Carrie Underwood and Rich was in Los Angeles producing tracks for Eve, Robin Thicke, Mario, and Ludacris, under his moniker Rich Skillz…Rich was looking for a strong vocalist and lyricist to collaborate with and take his tracks to the next level and he found the perfect match in Nikki.
To put it simply, Nikki + Rich are to doo wop as Bitter:Sweet are to acid nu-jazz: a dynamic duo of two (rather attractive) musicians with a flair for the old-fashioned.
Though there’s been some backlash as of late for ‘revival acts’ that call upon the sounds of yesterday (Adele, Duffy, Winehouse), Nikki + Rich show the promise of staying true to today without looking back to the point of becoming a tribute band.
I’m utterly obsessed with these two!
It’s that time of year again: A time during which I find myself to cuddle up to a nice, steaming brew of Earl Grey, boil up some bangers and mash, and allow myself to get downright British up in here. Why? Because it’s time for the the glamouriest (with a u!), glitziest award show of them all: The Brit Awards.
As if the show needed further proof of fierceness, Kylie Minogue has been announced as the official show host! Girls Aloud, Pet Shop Boys, and Kylie sharing one stage? SPOILER ALERT: There will be glitter.
Last night marked the announcement of the nominees for this year’s Brit Awards. Like last year, I’ve selected my picks to win for titters and giggles. And, like last year, the justification for my selection has largely whittled down to general attractiveness and general Ability To Make My Foot Tap. So get your kit off, you wanker, and check ‘em out!
Thanks to AceShowbiz for typing it all out!
British Male Solo Artist:
* Ian Brown
* James Morrison
* Paul Weller
* The Streets
* Will Young
Changes was, for the most part, all shades of brilliant. Seriously. Also: Cutie.
British Female Solo Artist:
* Beth Rowley
Normally I’d opt for the child-bearer of the bunch, but I was thoroughly underwhelmed by the entire Kala project. I’m gunning for the one that revolutionized the waterproof mascara market.
British Breakthrough Act:
* The Last Shadow Puppets
* Scouting for Girls
* The Ting Tings
I hear good things. Wouldn’t mind if it went to the throwback songstresses either, but please…Spare me the embarrassment of a Ting Tings win.
* Girls Aloud
* Take That
Though I don’t foresee a win for this category, “Hope” seems to be the theme of this brave, new generation. As a result…YES. WE. CAN.
British Live Act:
* Iron Maiden
* Scouting for Girls
* The Verve
Perhaps because they managed to squeeze in four tracks during their most recent Saturday Night Live stint, I’ve been supersaturated by their presence.
* Adele’s “Chasing Pavement”
* Alexandra Burke’s “Hallelujah”
* Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida”
* Dizzee Rascal’s “Dance Wiv Me” featuring Harris and Chrome
* Duffy’s “Mercy”
* Estelle’s “American Boy” featuring Kanye West
* Girls Aloud’s “The Promise”
* Leona Lewis’ “Better in Time”
* Scouting for Girls’ “Heartbeat”
* 2008 “The X Factor” Finalists’ “Hero”
Again, I’m dubious about a win here. Anyone of ‘em could take it, couldn’t they? (I suppose that’s the reason they’re all nominated.) Look for Coldplay, Alexandra, Adele, or Estelle to take it. Perhaps if Cheryl would just flash a little nip…
…YES. WE. CAN.
MasterCard British Album:
* Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida”
* Duffy’s “Rockferry”
* Elbow’s “The Seldom Seen Kid”
* Radiohead’s “In Rainbows”
* The Ting Tings’ “We Started Nothing”
For “Reckoner,” mainly.
* AC/DC’s “Black Ice”
* Fleet Foxes’ “Fleet Foxes”
* The Killers’ “Day & Age”
* Kings of Leon’s “Only by the Night”
* MGMT’s “Oracular Spectacular”
Because they remind me of Coldplay having a jam session with The Beach Boys in the woods.
International Male Solo Artist:
* Neil Diamond
* Kanye West
* Seasick Steve
I’m hoping a win would finally boost West’s humble ego.
International Female Solo Artist:
* Beyonce Knowles
* Gabriella Cilmi
* Katy Perry
Ooh, tough one! Anyone could take it…Except for Perry, of course. Pink was a disappointment this year, so she’s out. Gabriella? Too soon. Give her time. And while “Diva” has remained my go-to booty jam, Santogold ultimately delivered the most meaty set.
* Fleet Foxes
* The Killers
* Kings of Leon
Isn’t this just the International Album section? I’ll maintain my pick, so as to avoid thinking any harder. MGMT could win…There, I said it.
Critics’ Choice: Florence and The Machine
Outstanding Contribution to Music: Pet Shop Boys
What have you done for me lately? Love you, Boyz.
And that’s the list! Isn’t it simply ace?
Alas, now I’m feeling blue. Much like the Little Mermaid, I wanna be where the British are. I wanna see, wanna see them snoggin’…Walking around on those–What do you call ‘em? Oh – Trainers!
Wish I could be part of that world. Confound these blasted fins!
I need to bum a fag.
And now, Miss Kylie Minogue and the Direction She Should Have Gone In Post-Body Language: