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From The Vault: Beyonce, Rihanna, Ciara, Mariah, Mary J & More Perform ‘Just Stand Up’ Live…Together

It goes without saying that we love  our divas we do here at  That Grape Juice. So  imagine our excitement when 2008 brought with it the ‘Artists Stand Up to Cancer’ project and its larger-than-life line up.

Helmed by the legendary combo of L.A. Reid and Babyface, ‘Just Stand Up!’ was released released in August 2008 as part of the ‘Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C)’ charity / cancer research campaign. Fronted by somewhat of a “super-group”, consisting of Mariah Carey, Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Rihanna, Fergie, Sheryl Crow, Melissa Etheridge, Natasha Bedingfield, Miley Cyrus, Leona Lewis, Carrie Underwood, Keyshia Cole, LeAnn Rimes, Ashanti and Ciara; this project was many a fan’s dream come true… or worst nightmare.

The single achieved moderate success in the US where it peaked at the 11th position of the Billboard Hot 100 and was also popular in Canada where it reached at #10 on the official charts. It was a Top 40 hit in the UK (#26) and in Australia (#39)

Following the initial buzz of the recorded track, the featured artists assembled to perform the cut live during the ‘Stand Up to Cancer’ TV special; a huge feat in itself given the schedules of the largely A-list line-up. And while Etheridge, Crow and Rimes couldn’t hit the stage, the stars (who were joined by replacement Nicole Scherzinger) put on quite the show.

While staged for an amazing cause, any such showing, naturally, calls for comparison. We’re sure you know we feel nailed it vs those who sounded like they were gargling concrete; but we want to know what you think:

Who did best?
Who should have stayed?
Where was Ciara?

Sound off below!

Your thoughts?

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From The Vault: Monica – ‘The First Night’

After the mammoth hit that was her classic collaboration with Brandy ‘The Boy Is Mine’, all eyes were on Monca (pun intended) to see if she could deliver a smash of a follow-up.

Yet it was Mission Accomplished with ‘The First Night’, the second single lifted from her 1998 sophomore album, also titled ‘The Boy Is Mine’. Penned and produced by Jermaine Dupri, the track charted at #1 in the US Hot 100 and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop charts, and peaked inside the Top 10 of the Canadian and British charts. It was Monica sixth US Top 10 single and serves as one of her signature songs

The song is built around a sample of Diana Ross disco classic ‘Love Hangover’ and the now-Mrs. Brown pulls out yet another flawless vocal performance.
Lyrically, ‘Night’ boasts a very similar theme to Janet Jackson‘s 87 hit ballad ‘Let’s Wait Awhile’ -albeit much more sassier- with its central narrative being hooked on new boyfriend but insisting on furthering their like of each other before they take the next step in their relationship. Or as Mo’ would say it, before they “get down”.

Through the years, Monica has managed to stay a R&B force to be reckoned with and, contrary to numerous artists, has never turned her back on the music that made her a household name. Over the couse of her 15 years career, we’ve seen the diva evolve from a young vocal acrobat to a seasoned songstress; continues to surprise us with the quality each release and every live performance.

Ms. Monica we salute you.

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From The Vault: NSYNC – ‘Girlfriend’

With the world at large drooling over the The Wanted and One Direction, it is safe to say that boybands are back in style.

Indeed, more than 10 years have passed since the last “boom” courtesy of the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC – who dominated charts globally. One of the latter’s last ever singles, ‘Girlfriend’, is this week’s From The Vault pick.

The track served as the final single from their blockbuster curtain-call ‘Celebrity’ and was a Top 5 hit in the US, the UK, Canada and Australia. Originally produced by multi-talented Wade Robson, the video mix for ‘Girlfriend’ featured rapper Nelly and was helmed by the mighty dynamo duo The Neptunes – who would go on to produce the bulk of Timberlake’s debut.

This more Urban, edgier sound was a departure for the boys, who before that were serving up cheese-flavoured bubble-gum in abundance (not to take away from the classic statuses of ‘Bye, Bye’, and ‘It’s Gonna Be Me’). The tune was also a hit with critics (as was its parent album), and is considered a fan favourite.

Its drag race-themed visual echoed the edgy; and is clearly a visual Team Bieber had on loop before shooting the youngster’s latest vid, ironically titled ‘Boyfriend’. The ressemblance is uncanny.

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We can’t say we are eager for a NSYNC reunion (although another JC solo run is a *must*). Still, we’d amply appreciate if the new breed of boyband stopped wallowing in the cheese, and actually concentrated on giving them young girls (and boys) something to really scream about. Today’s superstar’s should be building on the foundations set by their predecessors…not peeing on it.

Your thoughts?

 

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Music

From The Vault: Missy Elliott – ‘Gossip Folks’

Here at That Grape Juice HQ, we love us some Missy Elliott! What’s not to hail about her? Killer flow, stellar songs, outstanding videos, impeccable stage shows and ever-enduring humility.

From The Vault this week journeys back to the year 2002 when Elliott released ‘Gossip Folks’ as the second offering from her fourth album ‘Under Construction’.

‘Gossip’, an open-letter to critics and bandwagon “fans”, was produced by partner-in-crime Timbaland and featured Hip-Hop heavyweight Ludacris. It was yet another hit for the rapper-singer-producer-songwriter, peaking inside the Top 10s of the US and UK charts. The song’s unusual chorus is built around a sample of ‘Double Dutch Bus’ by Frankie Smith.

As is always the case with Elliott, the accompanying visual is quite the event. Boasting CGI aplenty and appearances from the likes of friend Eve and then-protégé Tweet, the video was also notable for its tribute to late artists and friends Jam Master Jay, Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes and of course Aaliyah.

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With breakthrough act Azealia Banks confirming that she and Missy are to log in studio time, and with Timbo claiming her highly delayed album ‘Block Party’ is finally poised for released in June, the triple-threat seems on the right path to continue her reign as the one-and-only Queen of Hip-Hop. And we, for one, can’t wait!

Missy’s career is one to be both celebrated and adhered to as the definitive rule-book for Hip-Hop hopefuls. For her status is one achieved on the merit of skill and ever-flowing creativity; not scandal or gimmicks.

Your thoughts?

 

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From The Vault: Gwen Stefani – ‘Rich Girl (ft. Eve)’

Today, From The Vault journeys back to 2004, with the hit single ‘Rich Girl’ from dynamo duo Gwen Stefani and Eve.

The ragga-tinged cut served as the second offering from Stefani’s stellar solo debut ‘Love.Angel.Music.Baby’ and was released during the last quarter of 2004. Produced by Hip-Hop heavyweight Dr. Dre, ‘Rich was a global monster hit reaching the Top 10 of numerous countries and earning the duo yet another Best Rap/Sung Collaboration Grammy nod.

Indeed, the track serves as the 2nd of their collective efforts; with the first being E.V.E’s 2001 smash ‘Let Me Blow Your Mind’ – which featured Stefani on the hook and was also helmed by Dre. It would be this cut that would nab the coveted Grammy.

What’s so interesting about the ‘Love.Angel.Music.Baby’ album’s single-run (or the LP, as a whole for that matter) is how all the songs boast a genuine ‘Gwen-Factor’ while remaining worlds apart from each other. Whether Hip-Hop, R&B, Rock, New Wave, the mother of two possesses a unique musical character that enables her to touch upon every musical style without ever sounding contrived or desperate.

The tune’s David LaChapelle directed video is an elaborate high fashion pirate-themed affair complete with ships, anchors and cannon fires. It goes without saying, our two ladies look incredible in it.

From the over-the-top fashion and the ‘different’ sound, to the big-budget glossy videos and intricate stage showings, we firmly believe Gwen Stefani had laid down the groundwork for the Fergies, GaGas, Perrys and to some extent Minajs of the world; injecting the reality that “crazy” is cool and outrageous can be fun. It is a shame, then, that the said artists and their counterparts  -when quizzed about their influences- namedrop many a retro legends, often forgetting the Orange County Girl.

Here’s hoping both Gwen and Eve hurry up and hit us with some new material soon.

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From The Vault: Diana Ross & Michael Jackson Perform ‘Upside Down’

Next up on From The Vault is, without exaggeration, one of the most recognized songs around the world. We are referring to Diana Ross’ ‘Upside Down’. Talk about a classic!

Leading the campaign for Diana’s eponymous eleventh studio collection, ‘Upside’ is without a doubt what you’d call a timeless track. Helmed by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, it was yet another #1 record for the Diva. At the time of its release in 1980, the track was helmed for its edgier sound and honest lyrics about a dysfunctional loving relationship.

The cut, for many, is considered Diana’s signature song; indeed it has been reinterpreted countless times by many a music hopeful on talent shows and covered and sampled several times over the years by the biggest names in music, most notably MC Lyte for her ‘Cold Rock A Party’.

With the onset of the “music video” not arriving until years after, the selected clip is one of a 1981 live performance where you can witness Ms. Ross commanding the stage by just being present and parading around.

While there exists many a stellar showing of the classic, we couldn’t resist showcasing The Boss and the King Of Pop, Michael Jackson grooving together like it’s 1999. Easily two of music’s most enduring and legendary figures,  MJ and his Dirty Diana had a very strong bond throughout the years – one which birthed timeless showings such as this.

We’d say we’ve come a long way since that performance; for while Diana is obviously flaunting what her mama gave her (as she should too), she executes the whole shabang with class and sophistication aplenty. Which leaves one thinking about how sad it is that most of today’s multi-colored-wig princesses don’t possess an ounce of this.

Still, Ms. Ross’ legacy lives on through the likes of Beyonce, as well as the countless classic memories she blessed us with over the course of her illustrious career.

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Cover Star: Shakka Covers Usher’s ‘Climax’…With A Twist (A Must-See!)

This week’s That Grape Juice Cover Star boasts a bit of a twist. Ever keen to pierce through the smoke and mirrors, the feature almost wholly spotlights performances unaided by studio wizardry. However, today’s instalment was picked because of it.

Londoners Shakka and Vula serve up an unmissable take on Usher‘s latest hit ‘Climax’. Check it out below…

Three words Off the Richter!

For more on Shaka, check out his oh so popping Youtube page

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Want to be featured on That Grape Juice’s ‘Cover Star’? Drop an email to [email protected]

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