Yesterday marked what would have been the 57th birthday of the legendary Michael Jackson. And, with Kanye West getting ready to receive the Michael Jackson Vanguard Award at tonight’s MTV Video Music Awards, we thought it apt to dedicate this week’s From The Vault to the one and only King Of Pop.
Today’s pick is the love song and its star-studded video ‘Liberian Girl.’
The ninth and final release from the record-breaking, genre-defining, game-changing blockbuster ‘Bad’ LP, it was only released in Europe and Australia in 1989 where it was a moderate hit peaking at #1 in Ireland, #13 in the UK and #50 in Australia.
Written by MJ and produced by musical genius Quincy Jones with additional production from Mike himself, the song features a Swahili intro by South African singer Letta Mbulu. Back in ’87 when the ‘Bad’ album was unleashed, there had been much speculation concerning who Jackson was referring to… he has never disclosed who the recipient of this serenade was.
Way before Taylor Swift surprised the world with ‘Bad Blood’ and its cameo-heavy visual, the Jim Yukich-directed video for ‘Girl’ housed a plethora of A-listers (most of who remain household names today) waiting for the King to show up to shoot the visual for that very song. The big reveal? He was there all along documenting their every single move and capturing the conversation that occurred throughout the night.
A simple, yet clever concept.
Six years removed from his passing, it’s still difficult to digest that “Michael Jackson” is no longer with us. His unparalleled creativity and constant appetite for raising the bar are just a few of the reasons why – even in the afterlife – he remains untouchable. Invincible, if you will.
MJ, we love you, we miss you and once again, we say THANK YOU!
Long before Iggy Azalea and Charli XCX made the masses move with their infectious Hip-Pop collabo ‘Fancy’, a fierce duo were already bridging the gap between the Urban and and mainstream arena.
The track’s visual sported “party crasher” theme with Stefani and Jeffers inviting themselves to a chic soirée before transforming it into a titanic “turn-up.” Humorously, producer Dr. Dre makes a cameo and bails out the girls (who are arrested for their antics) from their cell.
Keyshia Cole’s debut single is this week’s From The Vault selection. ‘I Changed My Mind’ serves as today’s pick.
Produced by then-man of the hour Kanye West and written by Cole alongside John Legend, ‘Mind’ sees the songbird take back her love from an unfaithful companion. As it was customary at that stage of his career, West relied heavily on the use of samples, in this case a Dr Dre selection which itself uses a portion of Solomon Burke’s ‘Get Out Of My Life’.
The launching single off the singer’s ‘The Way It Is’ album, ‘Mind’ sadly didn’t set the charts alight in similar fashion to other material such ‘Last Night’ or ‘Let It Go’ and had to settle for a peak position of #71 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Benny Boom took charge of bringing the song to visual life and delivered a video that saw the chanteuse parade around her block as well as confronting her cheating boyfriend after finding out about his infidelity. Mr West can be seen in the clip alongside Cole.
Artists such as Keyshia are very rare in this day and age; she’s an artist who doesn’t compromise her sound and brings much needed grit to the R&B genre.
And while her recent releases haven’t rouses the masses, we hope the songbird hasn’t gotten to that point of no return where the masses start singing back to her “I changed my mind, I don’t love you no more “.
While only time will tell whether Ms. Cole can make a successful comeback, we’ll keep rooting for her – as she’s an undeniable talent.
If today Fifth Harmony and Little Mix are waving the flag for girl bands, 15 years ago the scene was occupied by the likes of Destiny’s Child, TLC and then newcomers 3LW.
This week’s From The Vault selection comes courtesy of the young R&B trio and their 2000 hit ‘No More.’ 3LW – short for ‘3 Little Women’ – consisted of Kiely Willams, Naturi Naughton and Adrienne Bailon.
Very much their breakout hit, ‘No More’ was produced by Sean ‘Sep’ Hall and penned by Nate Butler and Cameron Giles, and provided the band with their sole top 30 on the Billboard Hot (hitting#23) and UK Top 10.
For the video, the girls turned to Chris Robinson who blessed them with a fresh summery visual, which sees band members Adrienne and Naturi supporting Kiely who just found out her boyfriend has been cheating on her. Bummer!
Like every solid Pop video at the time, the clip comes armed with energetic choreography and an MTV dance-break.
From our vantage point, the industry could benefit from more girl groups – of every genre. Through the years we’ve seen how impactful females coming together can bet and if the 60’s had The Supremes, the 90’s TLC and the Spice Girls and the 00’s had Destiny’s Child, we are yet to have defining female ensemble for the 10’s. Hopefully it is more a case of “not yet” than “not at all”.
Released in 2001 in remixed form, ‘Fiesta’ was the third single from Kellz’ fourth studio album ‘TP-2.com‘ which saw the light of day the previous year. Joining the two heavyweights was Hip-Hop duo Boo & Gotti.
“Bill collectors at my door, what can you do for me?”
This week From The Vault journey’s back to the era when Gwen Guthrie let the world know that there was “no romance without finance.”
Today’s pick is the late chanteuse’s classic anthem ‘Ain’t Nothing Going On But The Rent.’
Written and produced by Guthrie, ‘Rent’ is a R&B song which sassily details how she is only interested in the matters of the heart if it comes with advantages of the cha-ching variety. An ancestor of sorts to Destiny’s Child’s ‘Bills, Bills, Bills’, the track was a minor hit in the US where it reached #42 but fared better in the UK where it was a Top 5 smash.
Filled with faux-subliminal messages like “BUY”, “SPEND”, “MONEY”, the music video showcases footage of men at actual work as well as projections of dollar bills, fancy cars and even a yacht.
Though the message feels somewhat dated in a post Girl Power, Independent Women world, we applaud Guthrie for getting herself out there and stand behind such a bold statement.
Rest In Peace, Gwen!