Since splashing onto the scene, aged 18, with breakthrough single ‘Money’, there’s been no looking back for R&B belle Jamelia.
Easily one of the UK’s most successful Black female acts, the Birmingham-bred star has wracked-up an impressive catalogue of hits since her 2000 debut, ‘Drama’.
Indeed, each of her 3 studio albums – the last of which was released in 2007 – have spurned singles that are etched in Britain’s Urban history book.
Hailed by many as the UK’s answer to Beyonce (if not for her talent, then the length and breadth of her success), the singer’s most notable streak was ushered in with her 2004 mainstream breakthrough ‘Thank You’. Certified double Platinum and housing her biggest hits to date, the project – in many regards – is what cemented the 31 year old as an all-round Pop force.
So, for these reasons and much more, we salute Jamelia as one the Best of British.
In honour of our Best Of British week, today’s From The Vault pick is an all-time UK classic, ‘Dreams’ by Gabrielle.
By unleashing this single as her debut during Spring 1993, the songbird (then 23) achieved something every artist wishes for with their first effort: scoring a hit song that would not only be a fixture in your homeland, but which one would garner recognition the world over.
Indeed, the rousing mid-tempo reached the top spot of the UK Singles Charts, but it also went up to the second position of the Australian Singles Charts, it climbed to #11 in France and peaked at #26 on the US Billboard Charts. It’s accompanying album ‘Find Your Way’ was also a blockbuster success.
Gabrielle is yet another case, point, example of the brilliance the Britannia has to offer. From her unique look (see: eyepatch) to her distinctive vocal and songwriting ability, she was (and very much is) a world-class talent. A fact not shaken nor stirred by the contained nature of her success.
We hear the singer’s sixth album is near completion and we for one can’t wait!
The 90’s saw Girl Power pervade the Pop music scape. A phenomena which, contrary to the history books, wasn’t confined to the US or Spice Girls alone.
Indeed, as the likes of En Vogue and TLC took the States by storm, the UK had their own female force in Eternal.
Fronted by powerhouse Easther Bennett, sister Vernie, and Kelle Bryan, the multi-Platinum trio presented a compelling package in that they weren’t simply British takes on an American formula. No. They could more than hold their own when measured up against their US counterparts. A fact which makes their lack of American launch all the more puzzling.
After all, they could sing, dance, weave flick, and Naomi Campbell Walk with the best of them! Not to mention the heavy dose of girl-band drama they oft served up (see: line-up changes). Drama which only served to strengthen their fanbase.
Still, their run on home-turf remains nothing short of legendary. With 15 top 20 singles, and 10 million records sold between 1992 and 2000, the ladies achievements cement them as one of the UK’s most successful girl-groups. A fact forgotten all-too-often in today’s McDonalised industry.
Nonetheless, we’re still able to soak up the brilliance that is their back-catalogue. Peep ‘Power of the Woman’ above, ‘I Wanna Be The Only One’ below, and more Eternal goodness after the jump!
The gargantuan success of Adele last year etched the UK deeper into the consciousness of today’s music-loving mass.
Indeed, prior to then, modern Britannia routinely churned out acts whose success was largely of the critical persuasion – with limited global presence.
And, yet while our charts naturally boast a heavy US presence, it’d be criminal to overlook the contained contributions which have made our industry one of the most revered in the world.
This week, Best You Never Heard, celebrates those contributions with a special Best of British Edition.
So without further adieu…
Will Young – Your Game
Hailed as of the first “credible” talent show winners, Will Young hit a homerun with his sophomore set ‘Friday’s Child’. Indeed, the 2004 album saw the Pop Idol winner ditch the cover-heavy material of his first LP in favour of flavoursome Pop; songs which really spotlighted the soulfulness of his voice.
And while the album as a body of work was stellar, no track stood out louder nor brighter than ‘Your Game’. Penned by Young and Taio Cruz, the cut is a delicious melody of Pop, Funk, and Soul.
Upon release, the track respectably charted at #3 on the Official UK Singles Chart. Although, it so clearly was worthy of nabbing the top spot. A stance the BRIT Awards seems to concur with; the song was honoured with the ‘Best Single’ gong at the 2005 ceremony.
All Saints – Under The Bridge
The 90’s pervasiveness of Girl Power saw the Spice Girls overshadow many female groups – both home and away. However, for many, London collective All Saints provided the perfect antithesis to the cheese and camp Ginger, Sporty and co served up for mass consumption.
Gritty, edgy, and devoid of the bells and whistles which defined Pop acts of that era, the Saints were wholly compelling. For, not only were they able to fuse R&B and 90’s Pop, they did so while remaining markedly “British”.
Ironically, one of the best examples of this is their unique take on the Red Hot Chilli Peppers‘ rock hit ‘Under The Bridge’.
While lyrically and melodically identical to the original, the 1998 track evokes an air of “fresh” – recooking a well-known rock smash into an Urban number which still goes hard today.
Keisha White – The Weakness In Me
2006 saw R&B chanteuse Keisha White deliver her best effort yet with ‘The Weakness In Me’.
A stirring cover of Joan Armatrading‘s song of the same name, White laced the track a new layer of authenticity, delivering the lyrics with ample conviction. With her vocal emotion set to production which built into a rousing climax, this had all the makings of blockbuster ballad – a fact which makes its #17 charting still hard to swallow.
Nonetheless, as we’ve made common-practice here at That Grape Juice, it’s important to celebrate “good music” – irrespective of its charting. And this, right here, is timeless.
Misteeq – Scandalous
As far as UK Urban acts go, Misteeq are as noteworthy as noteworthy gets.
Rising to prominence in 2001 (as part of the UK’s growing Garage scene), the trio scored a total of 9 top ten singles, a Platinum certification for their debut effort ‘Lickin’ On Both Sides‘ and Gold status for its follow up ‘Eye Candy‘. However, it’s ‘Scandalous‘ which cemented the ladies in the British history books.
Released March 17th 2003, the Stargate produced cut peaked at #2 in the UK and #35 on the Billboard Hot 100 respectively, spearheaded by a scorching hot video, courtesy of Jake Nava who later went onto direct Beyonce’s ‘Crazy In Love‘.
Picked up Giorgio Armani’s ‘Armani Code‘ ads in 2007 and Halle Berry‘s ‘Catwoman’ three years prior, ‘Scandalous’- in its own strange way- is just as celebrated by Pop culture as it is overlooked, even today.
Yet, with all three members credited for penning the track, we’re sure it is giving them just as much to celebrate today as it did when it turned them into Brit Pop icons almost a decade ago.