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From The Vault: Pussycat Dolls – ‘Buttons (Ft Snoop Dogg)’

With Nicole Scherzinger struggling to secure a solo hit for herself, one has to wonder if she’d have been better off leading the pack over at the Pussycat Dolls.

Dolls, whose scorching ‘Buttons’ will take centre stage at this week’s From The Vault.

Unleashed as the fourth single from the band’s multi-platinum selling debut, the aptly titled ‘PCD’ in Spring 2006, ‘Buttons’ was yet another home run for the girls after the trifecta of smash hits ‘Don’t Cha’, ‘Stickwitu’ & ‘Beep’.

With its infectious production courtesy of Polow Da Don and its lyrics helmed by the mighty Sean Garrett and lead singer Nicole, the track charted at #3 in both the US and the UK and was a solid Top 10 in all the other major markets.

The tune was a worldwide hit for numerous reasons, indeed the single mix featured the big Snoop Dogg (or Snoop Lion) which judging by his ability to score hits after hits throughout the years and until this day is no mean feat, quite literally. Also, its incendiary video propelled the already fantastic track to a whole other level because of its “fierce” nature.

From the strutting to the sensual – and never tacky – choreography, the vaporous and claustrophobic atmosphere to the burlesque vibe, this visual is definitively one of the most – if not THE most – glorious moment of the girls rather short but memorable stint as a recording band (obviously we are not rating the non-sense that is the new incarnation of the Pussycat Dolls).

Proving Pop tarts can be suggestive while staying all the way classy, the ‘Buttons’ MV stands as one of Pop culture’s sexiest efforts.

Ms. Scherzinger has never been more entertaining an enticing than during her time with the Dolls which is strange as the other girls – bar Ms. Melody Thorton – were clearly just back-up dancers for the ‘Nicole Show’ and she has worked with the same producers and choreographers for her solo endavors.

Maybe its a case of the masses not believing in her hype or maybe the other band members were not that disposable. In any case, we want you to sound off:

Why can’t Nicole Scherzinger catch a break?

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From The Vault: Shakira – ‘Whenever, Wherever’

This week’s From The Vault serves up yet another classic: Shakira‘s first mainstream effort, ‘Whenever, Wherever’.

Serving as the launch single from her premier English language LP ‘Laundry Service’, the track was the first of many blockbuster hits for the Latin stunner.

‘Whenever’, produced by the singer herself and written by her too (alongside Gloria Estefan and Tim Mitchell), was a global phenomenon; smashing world charts starting Fall 2001 until the middle of the subsequent year. It peaked at #6 on the US Hot 100, #2 in the UK, #4 in Canada and reached the top spot in almost every other market it has been released in including France, Australia and her homeland of Columbia.

Unless one had been living under a rock for the entirety of the last decade, they would obviously be ofey  with the single’s accompanying visual, which would best be described as ‘stellar’. Choreographed by dance legend Tina Landon and directed by video-maven Francis Lawrence, the clip was a more than effective introduction to the singer for the world (bar Latin America that is), showcasing an original, stunning, confident and most-importantly seasoned performer. Whether grooving on top of a rock, walking in the desert or belly-dancing in the mud, the video is a highly entertaining one-woman-show thanks to the ‘Hips Don’t Lie’ singer’s energy and agility.


Shakira-shakira’s last English album, ‘She Wolf’,’ didn’t exactly set the charts ablaze; yet with another on the horizon (backed by Roc Nation), all eyes will be on the 35 year old to see if she can still deliver the goods. In order to do so, she has collaborated with many a chart topper and it-producer. We firmly hope she keeps somewhat of a Latin/ethnic element to her music though. Because, as evidenced with acts such as Rihanna and Jennifer Lopez as well as her own recent hits ‘Waka Waka’ and ‘Loca’, it is it pays -quite literally- to have flavour-filled point of difference.

Your thoughts?

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From The Vault: Janet Jackson Brings ‘Discipline’ To Essence

The Queen of Pop Janet Jackson‘s 2008 ‘Rockwitchu Tour’ was a less-than-royal affair: from so-so ticket sales and  sickness triggered cancellations, the whole episode felt a bit like unfinished business and left her legion of fans frustrated.

Despite its shortcomings, the trek still boasted many a jaw-dropping moment. Case, point, Janet’s not so subtle rendition of the title track of her tenth album, ‘Discipline’. This week’s the From The Vault salutes her 2010 Essence Music Festival rendition of the cut – which was lifted from the tour.

Written by R&B divo Ne-Yo, the vivid track took on a life of its own thanks to creative director Gil Duldalao‘s vision and Ms. Jackson’s phenomenal performing skills. Other Pop stars may talk about ‘S&M’, ‘Erotica’ or getting ‘Dirrty’, yet few have gone to such committed lengths to illustrate such prowess. A whips and chains galore, Damita Jo disciplines a lucky with her unique blend of what is be best described as ‘classy filth’. An interesting juxtaposition to the song’s lyrics which demand that her lover do the same to her.


With the now 46 year old apparently in the early stages of a new project, we hope she bin her effortless sex-factor, as it is a huge part of her brand. In all fairness, there isn’t justifiable reason she shouldn’t re-explore that angle, given that the Madonna‘s and Tom Jones‘ are playing that card well into their 50’s and 60’s. For, as the video above testifies, Ms. Jackson still oozes sex-appeal in earnest.

Tidbit: Janet was really giving it her all starting at the 5 minutes mark, wasn’t she?

Your thoughts?

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From The Vault: Nivea – ‘Don’t Mess With My Man’

The likes of TLC and Destiny’s Child ensured that the late 90’s/early noughties was the definitive era of “male-bashing”. Indeed, the chart-topping success of ‘No Scrubs’, ‘Bills Bills Bills’, and the like, made it abundantly clear who “ran” the music world at that time.

However, that same window saw R&B singer Nivea score a hit with revised twist on the “relationship” narrative. Flipping the script, she scored herself a winner with this week’s From The Vault pick – anti-homewrecker anthem ‘Don’t Mess With My Man’.

‘Don’t Mess’ saw the pint-sized powerhouse duet with the vocal dynamos of Jagged Edge; it was released in 2002 as the third single from the songbird’s self-titled debut. The track, which managed to hit the US Top 10 but was a minor hit in other territories, ironically remains the singer’s most well-known song on a global scale. Thanks, no doubt, to the 00’s boom of Web 2.0 (see: Youtube and the like).
The sizzling cut – which was helmed by the ever-present Bryan Michael Cox – was accompanied by a glossy video featuring the crew fooling around at a garage and dancing at a parking lot. Although a sassier (or out of the box) concept exploring the lyrics would have been edgier, the clip does a solid job presenting us an artist capable of hitting the notes and busting the all-importan moves.
In recent years, it seems people have been talking more about Ms. Hamilton’s personal life than her music. Unsurprising given her marriage, divorce and army of children with hitmaker The Dream, as well as her child with Lil’Wayne. A fact which is ever-unfortunate considering how solid cuts such as this and her sophomore set ‘Complicated’ were.  Consequently, the songstress ends up in the “underrated” league alongside the likes of Ameriie and Kelis.
Still we’d like to know:
Who do you think are the most underrated R&B artists?  

Your thoughts?

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From The Vault: Zhané – ‘Hey Mr. DJ’

This week’s From The Vault pick comes courtesy of defunct R&B duo, Zhané and their timeless smash ‘Hey Mr. DJ’.

R&B at its finest, ‘DJ’ was the first single from their 1993 debut, the aptly titled ‘Pronounced Jah-Nay’ (in case you were wondering). It was a Billboard Hot 100 smash, charting at #6 and managed to crack the Top 40 of various other countries like the U.K and Australia where it peaked at #26 and #9 respectively.

The funky cut was accompanied by a fitting “bloc-party” video, which – like much of the 90’s Urban output – evoked a real “feel good” aura. An aura referenced by some today’s artists, ala Beyonce on ‘Party’, yet one generally overlooked in an era which sees most trying to embrace the “dark” and “edgy”.


Zhané scored themselves a few hits after ‘DJ’, such as ‘Groove Thang’ and ‘Sending My Love’, but ultimately called it quits as golden-decade of the 90’s drew to a close.

Though the journey ended rather abruptly for the talented pair, solace can be sourced in that they cooked up a hit which remains ever-fresh.

Zhané, we salute you.

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From The Vault: Jennifer Lopez – ‘If You had My Love’

Many in the entertainment industry are routinely branded ‘triple-threats’. Yet, while the validity of most claims are merely smoke and mirrors, Pop diva Jennifer Lopez not only embodies the title – she is one of the most pronounced examples.

At a time when the Latin beauty is releasing her first Greatest Hits compilation celebrating a  decade plus of hits, From The Vault journeys back to where it all started. This week’s pick is Jennifer’s debut single ‘If You Had My Love’.
With Darkchild on writing and production duties, J.Lo managed to launch her music career with a resounding bang. Released during Spring 99, ‘Love’ was a Billboard #1 and reached the Top 10 of the majority of the countries it was released in.
For many industry analysts, its worldwide success was largely the by-product of its iconic music video – which, let’s just say, ticked all the boxes. Indeed Jenny is presented as the absolute full-package; this sentiment is echoed throughout the phenomenal dance break which bares strong resemblance dancer’s show reel (see: Jazz, House, Latin Soul). The virtual and voyeuristic atmosphere was also a clever touch as the internet and reality-TV were booming bombastically at the end of the millennium. Put simply, director Paul Hunter did a wonderful job introducing Lopez, the Popstar, as a charismatic, sexy dance maven with global appeal, a description which still fits nowadays.
The ex-Idol judge is among the few people who can proudly say that they have been truly successful in multiple fields of the industry. She has been a professional dancer in the early stages of her career,  has been an in demand actress since the mid-90’s and her musical credentials count many a classic. Still, we want to know, according to you:

Is Jennifer Lopez the ultimate Triple-Threat diva?

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From The Vault: Diana King – ‘Shy Guy’

While this generation’s chart belle’s begging for a ‘Soldier’ or ‘Rude Boy’, this week’s From The Vault salutes asked for just the opposite in her 1995 worldwide smash ‘Shy Guy’.

Jamaican singer Diana King released the mega-smash as her debut single and saw it go on to sell over 5 million copies. Yes, 5 million.

The tune, which is a fusion of R&B and Reggae, charted at #13 in the U.S. and was an even bigger hit in the rest of the globe reaching the 3rd position of the Australian charts and only missing the pole position of the British charts by one spot. ‘Guy’ was also chosen as the ‘Bad Boys’ OST’s lead single. Needless to say, the movie’s raging success helped elevate the song to even higher ground.

Two videos were issued for the song. The first, shot in black and white, saw a suited King prancing around the streets of NYC. But it is the visual that was commissioned for the ‘Bad Boy’ movie that is still making the rounds on music channels today. Featuring the ever-so-hilarious Will Smith and Martin Lawrence engaging in a dance-off of sorts, it served as an altogether better fit for the colorful track.

Unfortunately King has never managed to match the success of ‘Shy Guy’, despite serving up a laundry-list of worthy material. With Caribbean-tinged Pop making a comeback in recent years as seen with Rihanna, who knows, maybe she could strike lucky again? In the meantime let’s reminisce and appreciate the brilliance of this classic.

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