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From The Vault: Ciara – ‘Go Girl (ft. T-Pain)’

TGJ Journeys Back To Another Gem

Today’s From The Vault comes courtesy of Ciara and her T-Pain assisted jam ‘Go Girl’.

Released at the end of Summer 2008, the track was produced by the King of Autotune who was also featured on the track. It was announced as the lead single of Ciara’s then upcoming LP ‘Fantasy Ride.’ Sadly, it didn’t live up to the beauty’s previous charts credentials, and spent a sole week on the Billboard Hot 100 at #78. It fared better on the R&B/Hip-Hop tally where it reached the 26th position.
Still, because of the single’s so-so performance, it was deemed a “buzz single” and was replaced as the official first single by the Justin Timberlake-assisted ‘Love Sex Magic’ the subsequent year.

Still, it’s not always about numbers. A point highlighted by the track’s impeccable video.

Melina Matsoukas directed the edgy visual which pictured CiCi as a naughty secretary as well as a bionic woman. Evidently, with this being a visual to a Ciara upbeat track, choreography was a focal point and as always, the performer pushed the envelope with slick and precise dancing. Beyond the execution, the actual moves were both creative and intricate and further cemented Ci as a performing force.

Say what folk will about the singer, but throughout her decade plus career she has blessed the industry with some of the most compelling music visuals in the “Pop” arena. No matter the budget attached to them, whether over-the-top or understated, she and her creative team have the uncanny ability to consistently come up with entertaining videos which are rich in replay value. From ‘Goodies’ and ‘Work’ to ‘Body Party’ and ‘I Bet,’ Ciara is the example of an artist actually working on their craft and still as hungry – if not more – than when they burst into the scene. A trait we have the utmost respect for.

You Go, Girl! Pun intended.

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From The Vault: Backstreet Boys – ‘Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)’

This week, From The Vault salutes another phenomenal boyband. Get ready to dance like it’s 1997; today’s pick is ‘Everybody’ by the Backstreet Boys.

At the helm of many of the group’s previous hits was Pop god Max Martin. Hence it was little surprise that he was called on once again  after the release of the group’s US debut to cook up this multi-format jam, which went on to become one of the Backstreet Boys’ biggest records to date.
A worldwide Top 10, it placed at #4 in the US and #2 in Canada; it went #2 on the European Singles Chart and #3 in the UK.

Without a spec of doubt, ‘Everybody”s impact on Pop culture comes courtesy of its cinematic video.

Directed by Joseph Kahn, the theatrical clip – in all its whimsicality – was heavily influenced by Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller.’ Indeed, it paid homage to the iconic short film with its haunted house theme and MTV era dance-break.  

From its camp and wacky elements to the “qualitative” choreography, the video achieves the perfect balance between cheese and credible, making for a classic moment in Pop. The boys gave a rousing performance of the song at 1998’s MTV Video Music Awards to further cement its status.

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Echoing earlier sentiments, oh how we miss the days when the male arena was this exciting. Creative visuals, solid vocals, and showmanship in earnest. It sadly seems like the requirements for men in this day and age aren’t what they used to be.

The business of music operates in trends and today seems to skew more towards “cool, minimalism.” However, we can’t but feel there is a certain air of “must-see” present here that is missing in much of the output from today’s top talent. Viewed this way, some of modern day’s chart-toppers would be well advised to take a page from Backstreet’s book if really looking to serve up compelling product that lasts the test of time.

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From The Vault: Boyz II Men – ‘End Of The Road’

“We belong together… and you know I’m right”

From The Vault is back this week with possibily one of the biggest love song of the past few decades, it’s ‘End Of The Road’ by legendary quartet Boyz II Men.

Trio of titans L.A. Reid, Babyface and Daryl Simmons birthed the 1993 gem which was included on the ‘Boomerang OST’ and later on was part of the tracklist of the reissue of the boys debut LP ‘CooleyHighHarmony.’
Without an iota of doubt, it’s this very song that made Boyz II Men a household name. Indeed, after a bevy of top 10 hits, ‘Road’ eclipsed all of the previous success thanks to a then record-breaking 13 weeks stint at #1 on the Billboard chart and multiple Top 10 placings the world over.

Though the track’s video drips all sorts of cheese, it is a a great representation of the “90s love song” model which remains a strong visual reference of the era.

At the top of the year, we were very vocal about wanting diversity in the male arena, especially on a lyrical tip. Narratives surrounding “sex” and “partying” have produced a number of hot hits could, however it’d be refreshing to see some of today’s talent expand their lyrical discourse to include some of the more true to life aspects of love – namely vulnerability. For, as ‘Road’ has shown, such artistic honesty can yield iconic results.

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From The Vault: Janet Jackson – ‘If’

As much as their respective fan-bases would like to state otherwise the female Pop throne is dually occupied by two powerful divas: Madonna and Janet Jackson.
This week From The Vault salutes the Queen of the Jackson dynasty and what we deem one of her most iconic songs and videos to date, 1993’s ‘If’.

After the phenomenal chart performance of ‘That’s The Way Love Goes’ – which was a significant change of pace, theme as well as style for the singer – the pressure was on for Janet to deliver something as exciting as the launching single of her eponymous fifth effort. All doubts were silenced when ‘If’ was selected as the follow-up single.
Another Janet, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis concoction, the Rock-infused track skilfully fused the the sound of the star’s preceding album ‘Rhythm Nation‘ with her newfound sexy.

Chart wise, it was another Billboard Top 5 for the artist, reached the 4th position of the Canadian charts and peaked at #14 in the UK.

What undoubtedly etched ‘If’ in the Pop Culture history book is its iconic music video – most especially the sickening choreography it showcases courtesy of the legendary Tina Landon. Directed by frequent collaborator Dominic Sena, the visual is set in a kinky Japanese nightclub where Janet performs seductively for a captivated crowd.

Oh…and did we mentioned “that” dance-break? Beyond being a visual exclamation mark for the song, video and MTV era, it’s widely regarded as one of the most groundbreaking pieces in the world of dance. And for reasons it simply justifies itself.

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What better day than International Women’s Day to highlight how much this artist and video have been influential for Women in Pop. Indeed, by being herself – fearless and fly, by not being afraid to express her fantasies, and by exhibiting precision in her dancing and the conviction she puts in her craft, Jackson managed to change the Pop landscape for the better. She became an ambassador for female empowerment and birthed a whole new generation of performers – both female and male.

While we wait for the Queen to return to the charts, we urge you to press play and reminiscence with us about this classy classic which is still as sexy, innovative and edgy today as it was 23 years ago.

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From The Vault: Diddy – ‘Come To Me (ft. Nicole Scherzinger)’


When not promoting liquor around the world or pulling the plug on promising bands, Diddy is a recording artist who’s quite capable of delivering bodacious bops.
Case in point, his collaboration with Pussycat Dolls lead singer Nicole Scherzinger, ‘Come To Me’ – which is this week’s From The Vault pick.

Helmed by Jai, Younglord and the rapper-producer himself, ‘Come’ stood as the first single from ‘Press Play’, Diddy’s fourth studio album. Released in 2006, the cut was also Scherzinger’s second foray into solo stardom since joining the Dolls. Whether it had to do with Nicole’s then-midas touch or simply the fact that the tune is blazing hot, the track peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #4 in the United Kingdom. It placed #4 on the European Hot 100 Singles. Performed on number of occasions, Diddy offered live renditions with the Doll as well as with aspiring-singer/girlfriend Cassie and the first incarnation of Danity Kane.

Staying true to ‘Press Play’s urban-futuristic theme, the video presents the two artists surrounded by latest technology, as they try and navigate their way to one another.
Pieced together by Chris Robinson, the clip received ample airplay and charted at #4 on BET’s now-defunct 106 And Park.

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Say what you will about Diddy’s artistry, one thing is for sure is that he’s consistently pushing the envelope visually and sonically; as evidenced by his impressing resume, from the Biggie days to the dynamite Dirty Money dynamic.

As for Nicole, it’s songs like this one that makes it all the more puzzling that it’s taking that much for her to truly pop off…
Anyhow, join us while we reminisce about better days – musically – for these two talents.

diddy

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From The Vault: Beyonce, Jennifer Hudson, & Anika Noni Rose Rock ‘Oscars’ With ‘Dreamgirls’ Medley


As Hollywood gears up for another Academy Awards ceremony tonight, From The Vault journeys back to the year 2007 when the ‘Dreamgirls’ cast performed a medley of the movie’s finest songs.

‘Dream’ was a huge success both commercially and critically; and a pronounced part of its popularity lay in the material heard throughout the movie. As such, it wasn’t much of a surprise then when its OST hit #1 on the Billboard 200 or when three records from the project were nominated for Best Original Song at the Oscars – namely ‘Love You I Do’, ‘Listen’ and ‘Patience’.

Introduced by Jennifer Lopez, cast-mates Keith Robinson, Anika Noni Rose, Jennifer Hudson and Beyonce  took to the stage to present a rousing rendition of said songs in medley form. Needless to say, the showing was a vocal home-run. Most importantly, the artists displayed incredible chemistry and each of their lights were able to shine during the seven minutes showing. {Side note: It’s always a pleasure for us watching Hudson and Knowles trade verses during ‘Listen’}

Sadly none of the songs won the coveted prize, but J.Hud was named Best Actress In A Supporting Role for her portrayal of Effie White. Hopefully, Common and John Legend fare better tonight with their Golden Globes-winning song ‘Glory’ which will compete against the Diane Warren-penned ‘Grateful’ sung by Rita Ora.
While we await to find out, we invite you to press play and relive the splendour of this moment.

dreamgirls-2007-thatgrapejuice

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From The Vault: Toni Braxton – ‘Un-Break My Heart’

Though released almost two decades ago, Toni Braxton‘s classic ‘Un-Break My Heart’ still serves as a Valentine season favourite. As such, the lovelorn number is this week’s From The Vault pick.

Interestingly, initially Braxton wasn’t too keen on recording the Diane Warren-penned and David Foster-helmed track. After skilled convincing from then-label head L.A Reid, Toni agreed and turned this ballad into a monster smash.
The second single from her magnum-opus ‘Secrets’, the song topped the Billboard Hot 100 for eleven weeks – funnily enough from December 7 1996 to Valentine’s Day week in 1997. It reached the fifth position on the Canadian charts and entered the Top 3 in numerous European countries. Perhaps, most notably though, the gem won Braxton her fourth Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal.

It is with flying colors that frequent collaborator Bille Woodruff managed to create a heartbreaking visual for a heartbreaking track. Starring world-famous model Tyson Beckford, the video sees the stunner mourning her deceased lover and later on taking the stage for an all-out diva masterclass that has now become permanently etched in the minds of millions.

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To this day, Toni Braxton remains a rare gem; from her deep sultry tone to her effortless brand of “sexy”, she has established herself as one of R&B’s most notable royals and  definitive music legend.

As widely known, her run in the industry has been filled with high highs and challenging lows. Hence, why we’re hoping the Grammy winning success her latest project, ‘Love, Marriage, & Divorce’, will inspire her to press on with new music so as to allow generations to come to appreciate the wealth of her immense talent.

toni-braxton-unbreak-my-heart-thatgrapejuice

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