Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Hot Buzz: Better In Time by Leona Lewis

If you don't know who Leona Lewis is by now, you must have been living under a rock. Winner of the third season of The X Factor (UK's version of American Idol), Leona Lewis released her debut single in 2006, A Moment Like This (which coincidentally was released by American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson), and promptly saw it top the charts.

Her second single, Bleeding Love, topped both the UK and US singles charts. In the process, she became only the sixth female solo artist to top the Billboard 100. She's been compared to Mariah Carey and Christina Aguilera and the one thing that's definitely true is: she can belt out a tune.

I'm currently hooked on her third single (and second single off her Spirit album), Better In Time. It has a nice melody and fortunately Leona doesn't have the urge to over-sing it. My mind was thinking of the tune throughout the whole Man U vs Arsenal match last night. I couldn't shake it off! Go check it out!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Michael Jackson can win American Idol

I was feeling bored and I pulled out the Michael Jackson Live In Bucharest: The Dangerous Tour DVD to watch. I actually intended to watch only a few tracks, but I ended up watching most of it.

I'm still very impressed by the concert even though I have watched it many times. I was particularly impressed by the fact that MJ sang most of the songs live, perhaps with the exception of Smooth Criminal (it's hard to tell).

Granted, he sounded out of breath on Human Nature, but for the other songs, especially the slow ones, he sounded great. Which brings me to my point of this post.

As I was watching the concert, I was also thinking about American Idol. Well, I don't watch AI that often, but I do know for a fact that although it is a singing competition, it does not just rely on how well you can sing. Besides being able to carry a tune, you must also have showmanship and win the hearts of the audience with your charm.

However, you still MUST be able to sing as a bottomline. If you constantly sing out of tune, or run out of breath during long notes, you can be sure the judges will slam you and America will also not vote in your favour.

I began to think about the biggest pop stars today, and what would happen if they were all contestants on the same season of AI. Let's say we have Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Madonna, Beyonce, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Kylie Minogue, Rihanna, Usher, Mariah Carey and Alicia Keys. I'm talking pop stars here, because after all, AI is a pop music competition.

To sidetrack a little, you will notice that there are only 3 male artistes in that list while the other 8 are women. It's really not surprising as there are really no more male pop artistes left. Everyone is now hip-hop/R&B/rock. The male pop star is officially extinct.

Back to my point, let's imagine that those 11 artistes are finalists in AI, and we treat them as contestants taking part for the first time rather than being established pop stars with a reputation. I dare say that the final 4 contestants left will be MJ, Alicia, Beyonce and Mariah.

How did I derive at my final 4? I imagined all the contestants going through the different themes for the different episodes, and I imagined how each of them would fare each week. And at the end of the day, those who remain standing are those who can really sing well.

Of my final 4, Alicia is the one who probably sings with the most emotion, Mariah is possibly the most gifted in terms of vocal gymnastics, Beyonce is probably the one with strong vocals and good showmanship, but MJ is ALL of that and more.

Really, I'm not boasting. But he is an undeniable live performer. When he's on stage, you really can't take your eyes off him. His dancing is flawless and there's so much character in it, not like those aerobics-like dance moves that populate all the music videos these days. The dance complements the song.

A good example is the Will You Be There performance, where he goes into a graceful, ballet-like dance at one point, and it's quite contrary to what you mostly see him doing, like the energetic moves of Smooth Criminal or sleek moves in Billie Jean. He does every genre so well, and brings with it his own signature and style.

He is also a great singer, which I think, is his most under-rated quality. His singing is effortless and for a guy, he has a great vocal range. His voice is so versatile he can sing ballads like Heal The World or I Just Can't Stop Loving You with so much warmth, and then switch to tough guy mode like in Beat It or Smooth Criminal in an instant.

I was watching the Man In The Mirror performance, and it's got to be one of the most moving songs ever, all because of his vocal delivery. It's really quite hard to describe, but it melts your heart, and certainly Justin or Usher won't be able to pull it off the same way. When he sings the high notes in Human Nature, it's simply beautiful, and I'm not being sissy here. The voice quality is so good.

On top of the singing and dancing, MJ just has this charisma that the others don't have. I don't think it can be trained, but rather, it's a gift that's granted to so few people on this earth. This charisma or X-factor is the reason why even when MJ is not on stage, like when he enters a room, people just can't help but feel different. It's like magic.

I can talk about the other "contestants" and why they would not win AI if MJ is in the same competition as them, but it would be a long post. I think MJ is one of a kind and it would be really interesting to imagine him as one of the contestants on AI today, and not the legend that he already is. Perhaps there would not even be a season 2, because there's no one good enough to top him.