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From The Vault: Jennifer Lopez – ‘Love Don’t Cost A Thing’

After the success of her hits-filled debut, ‘On The 6′, we can only imagine how much Team Jennifer Lopez was dreading the pressure associated with the infamous “sophomore slump”

Then along came ‘Love Don’t Cost A Thing’, the first single lifted from Lopez’s second offering, ‘J.Lo’.  And, from that moment, if people didn’t know, then they knew Ms. Lopez was there to stay.

‘Love’ was released at the tail end of 2000, peaking at #3 in the U.S. and #1 in the U.K. in January 2001.

The song sees the triple threat diva confronting a potential-lover about how he shouldn’t try to impress her with material things. You now, the tried and tested formula which was all the rage that side of the new millennia.

Still, the best thing about this tune is its accompanying music video. Essentially comprised of shots of Jenny From The Block driving, strutting and stripping her way down to the beach, it’s its killer dance sequence which elevates the release to another plateau. From the cornrows to the sneakers and to the special effects, and of course the choreography, everything is on point.

Set to take to the stage at tonight’s AMA’s, the 42 year old continues to show that she’s still a bad momma shut your mouth! We can’t but salute her!

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From The Vault: Christina Aguilera – ‘Dirrty’

The year was 2001 and a certain Britney Spears had freshly shocked the industry with an altogether raunchier image and attiude courtesy of her ‘Slave for You’ video.

However, as the age old saying goes, never count out the underdog. A statement which rung true and then some when longtime chart-rival Christina Aguilera roared back with ‘Dirrty’ a year later.

The first single to be lifted from her  highly-praised and mega-selling sophomore set, ‘Stripped’, 2002’s ‘Dirrty’ served as an introduction to Ms. Aguilera’s explicit and controversial alter-ego Xtina.

Leaving behind the safeness which defined her earlier effort, the one-time girl-next-door, was now leaving her doors open – both lyrically and visually – in a way we’d never seen before. Ditched were the Pop-by-the-numbers tracks, in favor of a filthy urban sound and sexed-up demeanour, ‘Dirrty’ (and the ‘Stripped’ era) marked a turning point in Christina’s career.

Joining forces again with Rockwilder, the very man responsible for her then-latest hit ‘Lady Marmalade’, Aguilera wanted something radically different from than anything she’d done before to usher in her newest project. The result was this bodacious, unapologetic party anthem based on featured rapper Redman‘s hit ‘Let’s Get Dirty’.

And while the 30 year old might be a judge on rival show, The Voice, she definitely served up the X-Factor. Helmed by the great David Lachapelle, the accompanying video depicted an underground party headlined by biker chick Xtina, where dancing suggestively was a requirement and wearing as few clothes as possible a staunch obligation.

From the classic choreography to the now-iconic leather chaps, it’s safe to say that Dirrty sits effortlessly within the upper echelon  of the Top 5 female videos of the 00’s.

And with the mother of one now in the studio working on a comeback (after a series of commercial disappointments), we can’t but get excited that she’s already christened the sound as echoing that of ‘Stripped’. Of course, we don’t particularly endorse her re-treading ‘Dirrty’ water (see: ‘Not Myself Tonight’); however we seriously hope Baby Jane can recapture that imperfectly-perfect combination of strengh, hope and vulnerability that made the album it called home so captivating and relatable.

When you hit rock bottom, the only way is up. As such, let’s hope ‘Moves Like Jagger’ global chart success is but a small indication of what’s to come for Christina Aguilera, one of the most gifted artists of this generation.

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From The Vault: Ciara – ‘Oh’

From The Vault this week pays tribute to Ciara‘s 2005 summer sizzler ‘Oh’. The gritty cut was released as the 3rd single from her Platinum selling debut, ‘Goodies’. Featuring a verse from Hip-Hop titan Ludacris, the release peaked at #2 on the Billboard 100 and was yet another international hit for the singer.

Riding high on the wave that was Crunk-R&B back then, the Dre & Vidal produced cut served as Ci’s homage to her hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. While having a darker tone than previous singles ‘Goodies’ and ‘1,2 Step’, ‘Oh’ maintained a crossover appeal and radio-friendliness that allowed it to perform as well as its predecessors on the charts.

From the elaborate choreograpgy to the overall swag and attitude displayed, the single’s accompanying video further cemented CiCi’s status as the most visually exciting emerging artist in town.

Here at TGJ HQ, we can’t help but feel like the world hasn’t seen the best of Super C yet. Something which could very well change now that her rough spell (see: Fantasy Ride, Basic Instinct) is seemingly behind her and the comeback narrative is falling into place. Let’s only hope that her collaboration with her Epic knight in shining armour, L.A Reid, yields fruitful rewards. After all, he is responsible for Mariah‘s 00’s comeback and Rihanna‘s (successful) joke of a career; yet also bares the load of mishandling of Janet‘s 2008 under-performer ‘Discipline’. For Ms. Harris’ sake, their reunion (he launched her career) needs to translate into critical and commercial acclaim and of course more hits. Hopefully this new venture will also allow Ms. Harris to expand her creative vision through big-budget videos and worldwide tours. She’s too talented to still be so ‘local’. She’s a global star in-waiting.

Roll on 2012!

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From The Vault: Lady GaGa – ‘LoveGame’

Sometimes it’s hard to believe that chart-Queen Lady GaGa‘s big break only occured in 2008. Indeed, that time to now has seen the Pop force create a lane of her own and become a pioneer – doing in three years what many of her peers have tried their whole careers to achieve. So speedy has her musical and physical evolution been that it genuinely feels like she’s been here forever. As such, her ‘Just Dance’ days now seem many moons old.

This week’s From The Vault takes aim with GaGa of yesteryear and her ‘LoveGame’ – the third single (or fourth depending on your region) to be lifted from her first opus, ‘The Fame’.

The RedOne helmed tune is a gritty number exploring themes such as love, sex and of course fame. While it possesses all the ingredients to a Pop-record, what’s interesting about the cut is how seamlessly it fuses those sensibilities with a particular Urban edge. That Hip-Hop/R&B undercurrent which was ever present throughout the ‘The Fame’ era; an undercurrent which seems to be long gone judging from the ‘Judas’ singer most recent material. Rather unfortunate, we must say.

The accompanying visual is a high-energy dance video and showcases Stefani and her dancers going all out in a subway station and was really the first of many dance-oriented videos she would go on deliver. While GaGa has always cited Michael and Janet Jackson as some of her influences, the LoveGame video demonstrates just how much, for it has a strong air of “Jackson” to it.

With the “Born This Way” singer experiencing critical acclaim and commercial success with her latest Electro-Pop output, we won’t hold our breath waiting for an “Urban-GaGa” resurgence anytime soon.

No matter the kind of music she’s churning out, let’s hope GaGa can continue to raise the bar for artists the world pver and inspire them to push the enveloppe musically and visually… that is of course if her rapid rise to fame doesn’t result in an even quicker fall, because you know what they say: “the brightest stars burn out the fastest”.

Only time will tell…

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From The Vault: Brandy – ‘Full Moon’

This week’s From The Vault will, yet again, concentrate on an artist who doesn’t get the kudos they deserve: the multi-talented Brandy.

Today’s pick comes in the form of the title track of B-Rocka’s third studio album, ‘Full Moon’. Released almost 10 years ago, the track served as the 2002 LP’s second single.

On the Mike City-helmed groove, Ms. Norwood tells an engaging tale of “love at first sight” that she coos is caused by the state of the moon. A narrative relayed literally, yet effectively in its accompanying video.

As always, the siren’s flawless vocal delivery is the center of affairs, with her trademark harmonies and mesmerizing ad-libs on display. And even though she is clearly demonstrates vocal restraint on the track, it’s ample enough to underscore the age-old saying that ‘sometimes, less is more’.

The singer’s then-pregnancy rendered her unable to properly promote the single, but it still managed to reach the Top 20 in the US and in the UK.

With a newly announced deal with RCA Records and fresh material on the pipeline, the Moesha-star stays among the most exciting vocalists the industry. And, although she has achieved plenty during her 17 year career, it seems Brandy still has much more give. TGJ will be there, front row-center, to witness just how much. Will you?

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From The Vault: Danity Kane – ‘Damaged’

It’s 2006 and Diddy’s super-group Danity Kane were finally ready to prove that the vocal training and “book kacks” had paid off. Composed of Dawn Richard, Shannon Bex, Aundrea Fimbres, Wanita “D.Woods” Woodgette and Aubrey O’Day, the ladies embarked on a short-lived, yet ultimately impressive adventure.

This week’s From The Vault relives the group’s biggest hit, the Stereotypes produced ‘Damaged’.

Released in early 2008 as the Making The Band winners’ first single from sophomore set ‘Welcome To The Dollhouse’, the track is a definitive homerun, serving as one of DK’s finest audio-visual moments. With its seamless fusion of Urban and Electro-Pop , the upbeat cut allows the ladies to truly show the masses that they are more than capable vocalists. Underscoring the fact that after only 3 years being bandmates, their chemistry as a recording act was off the chain.

Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for their chemistry off the record. Indeed, in-fighting rumors were whipped into overdrive, ultimately proving more than accurate. As such, Mr. Combs decided to put an end to his own creation, sacking star-member Aubrey O’Day as well as D.Woods -rendering many a fan…well…damaged.

Three years down the road, there seems to be no turning back for Aubrey and co. as a collective. However, we seriously hope the budding divas  put their talent to good use, for it would be a crime against the  industry if they were to ‘sleep on it’.

Still, we’d like to know:

Do you think it is essential for band members to be friends in order to succeed?
Was disbanding the group Diddy’s biggest mistake? (… after signing Cassie of course)?

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From The Vault: Mariah Carey Gives Her ‘All’ At Divas 98

Before it was the name of a successful talent show, ‘The Voice’ has been and still is a certain diva’s moniker – of course we’re talking about the one and only Mariah Carey. Whether on top of the charts or not, Mariah’s status as one of the greatest power-vocalist to ever grace the face of earth has never been questioned.

Mimi’s live showing of her hit ballad ‘My All’ at 1998’s Divas Live will make the object of this week’s From The Vault.

A Lamb-favorite, this live showing showcases Mrs Carey-Canon’s then new voice: a raspier, huskier one, and although a tad less powerful than before, it boasted a compelling rawness.

By the end of the performance, the soulful songbird channels her inner Dance-diva, parading on stage to the David Morales remix of the track. A refreshing flirtation with Dance we wouldn’t mind seeing her revisit with future efforts.

Speaking of what’s to come, a degree of realism is imperative. The mother-of-two’s voice had been through a lot – from the mire and back higher. Indeed, her vocals have been the subject of many heated conversations. Yet, although we highly doubt she’ll recapture the youthful horsepower she possessed during her vocal hey-day (which is only fair), we at That Grape Juice are still rooting for ol’ Mimi and anticipate more greatness from her before the curtain call.

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