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The Best You Never Heard: Christmas Edition – Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, & CeCe Winans

best u never xmas The Best You Never Heard: Christmas Edition   Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, & CeCe Winans

Like most of you, That Grape Juice are feeling super festive today. So what better way to toast to the season than to share some of our favourite little known Holiday gems in a Christmas edition of The Best You Never Heard!

Featuring picks from the TGJ editorial team, we want to know…who chose the best song! Let us know below…

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Mariah Carey & Patricia Carey – O Come All Ye Faithful

For almost 20 years, the Holidays have become synonymous with the voice of premium diva Mariah Carey. Indeed, 1994’s festive set ‘Merry Christmas’ went on to become a global blockbuster – selling millions annually to this day.

Keen to contribute a new collection of cuts to the ever-growing pool of Christmas classics, 2010 saw a then-pregnant Carey release her sophomore Holiday effort ‘Merry Christmas II You’. A stellar body of work, the opus arguably stands  shoulder to shoulder with its predecessor – serving up titillating takes on festive favourites, as well as an assortment of amazing original songs.

One of the project’s brightest moments is undoubtedly ‘O Come All Ye Faithful / Hallelujah Chorus’. A rousing duet between Ms. Cannon and her Opera singer mother Patricia Carey, the track is bubbling ball of brilliance. And though essentially a rendition of an established classic, their version earns classic status in its own right. Epic. {SAM} 

LISTEN: [audiotube id="j25wYtN1EIA"]

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Christina Aguilera – The Christmas Song

Christina Aguilera’s 2000 Holiday album ‘My Kind Of Christmas’ served up many a gem, yet few are more notable than melismatic ‘The Christmas Song’.

A wholly heartfelt rendition of the Mel Tormé penned classic – made famous by the mighty Nat King Cole – Ms. Aguilera delivers here a faultless performance, turning the usually laid back number into yet another vocal-acrobatics showcase.

Releasing the festive LP helped further distance the soon-to-be Xtina from her teen-Pop competitors by shifting the emphasis yet again on to her most prized asset: her Voice (yes, pun intended).

With the Pop belle naming Christmas Queen Mariah as an inspiration, we can only hope that she follows her lead and bless us with a sequel to that wonderful album.

“Although it’s been said many times, many ways, Merry Christmas to you” {JOE}

LISTEN: [audiotube id="WEUobjCuSNs"]

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Cee Lo Green – Mary Did You Know

2012 saw ‘Crazy’ crooner Cee Lo Green release his first collection of holiday tunes called ‘Cee Lo’s Magic Moment’. A fitting title, as the set is filled with a slew of magical music moments including duets with The Muppets and more. But, like so much of Green’s work in the past, his eccentricities can sometimes overshadow his art.

His performance of ‘Mary Did You Know’, however, is not one of those moments,  Reminding listeners of why he is revered for his vocal stylings, Cee Lo lays into the Christmas classic – lending soaring vocals like only he can.  Listen below {RASHAD}

LISTEN: [audiotube id="D1ptNwE7K8o"]

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CeCe & BeBe Winans – Silver Bells

Unwind to the soothing sound that is CeCe and BeBe Winans‘Silver Bells’, pulled from their Gospel Holiday LP – ‘First  Christmas’.
CeCe’s solo effort on the project, the number sees the vocal wonder take on the Livingston/Evans classic with a quiet power that may remind listeners of the duo’s close friend, Whitney Houston- with whom Bebe worked in on ‘The Bodyguard’ soundtrack a year before.

Press play and fall in love {DAVID}

LISTEN:  [audiotube id="HUg9UNv_jU8"]

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Whose Pick Was Best This Week?!

 

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The Best You Never Heard: Janet Jackson, Jazmine Sullivan, Ciara, Rita Ora & Craig David

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best you never heard decem2012 The Best You Never Heard: Janet Jackson, Jazmine Sullivan, Ciara, Rita Ora & Craig David

The Best You Never Heard is back! After a lengthy rest on the bench, each week will once again see That Grape Juice spotlight an array of little known gems. Featuring picks from the TGJ editorial team, we want to know…who chose the best song! Let us know below…

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Janet Jackson – ‘Discipline’

 

The absence of Janet Jackson‘s creative partners in crime Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, saw many fire bullets at the star’s 10th studio album. However, it’d be criminal to take aim at the undeniable home run: the title track, ‘Discipline’.
Crafted by Shea Taylor and Jackson fanatic Ne-Yo, the super-sexed-up slow-jam is an ode to BDSM. J’s vocal delivery gives the impression that she is in an enjoyably painful predicament from which she has no intention nor desire of getting out of. From the moaning to the trademark harmonies – which in this particular song are as eerie as ever- the X-rated number is by all means a classic Janet “baby-making song”.
Damita Jo’s suggestive live interpretation of the track is another example that one shouldn’t be fooled by the “Good Times” smiles and shy attitude the singer/actress displays during promotional interviews.
Hopefully, in the very near future, Pop Royal Janet will bless us with a new record filled with Disciplines, Feedbacks, and other gems akin to those that have slipped under the radar in recent years {JOE}

LISTEN: [audiotube id="Jl9C7Ni5W28"]

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PJ Morton & Jazmine Sullivan – Built For Love

 

Despite sending shockwaves through the industry post announcing her “retirement”,  soulstress Jazmine Sullivan still found her name etched as a feature on some unfortunately overlooked gems.  PJ Morton‘s debut single ‘Built For Love’ was certainly one of those gems.  A throwback to a time when real music dominated charts, the ‘Lions Tigers & Bears’ beauty unleashed her melismatic roar over the Morton tune about love on the rocks.

Morton, son of famed gospel singer Bishop Paul Morton, tickles the ivories while the two soar over the 70s-inspired duet.  The song was released shortly before it was announced that the crooner had signed with Young Money entertainment

Press play and fall in love {RASHAD}

LISTEN:  [audiotube id="MoRmera0aUM"]

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Ciara – Shut Em Up

 

It’s common-knowledge that Ciara’s last studio outing ‘Basic Instinct’ was pretty much a disaster – so much so that she told us she wished it didn’t come out.

However, the project’s poor handling doesn’t mean it didn’t birth some of her best material yet. Case, point ‘Shut Em Up’.

Ironically not featured on the 2010 album’s final tracklist, the cut was one of the many songs leaked and left on the cutting room floor. “Why” is beyond us, as the track was banging!

Produced by Infinity and penned by Soundz, ‘Shut Em Up’ served as an emphatic bite back at all of her critics – doing so over a bouncy beat that thankfully sounded more club-geared, than Pop-star political.

More than anything, the track excels in that anyone can apply the lyrics to their own reality.  Too often, those that “can’t” vent by slamming those that “can”. This song tastefully tells them what they can do. {SAM}

LISTEN: [audiotube id="u3F2cvzb1Bg"]
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Craig David & Rita Ora – Awkward

 

Before signing onto serve as Roc Nation’s leading newbie, Rita Ora‘s claim to fame came courtesy of ‘What’s Your Flava’ maestro Craig David.

However, while 2008’s ‘Where’s Your Love’ stands as their most recognizable outing, it’s their 2007 duet that ‘Awkward’ that will undoubtedly surprise any unfamiliar with it. Surprising somewhat is that this is Ora’s voice at just 17 years old, boasting a conviction that some of her older contemporaries are still yet to master. Enjoy below {DAVID}

LISTEN: [audiotube id="CwX2Ieuk5no"]
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The Best You Never Heard: Christina Aguilera, Whitney Houston, Destiny’s Child, & Christina Milian

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best you never 2012 The Best You Never Heard: Christina Aguilera, Whitney Houston, Destinys Child, & Christina Milian

The Best You Never Heard is back! After a lengthy rest on the bench, each week will once again see That Grape Juice spotlight an array of little known gems. Featuring picks from the TGJ editorial team, we want to know…who chose the best song! Let us know below…

********************

Christina Aguilera – ‘Get Mine, Get Yours’

 

While 2002’s ‘Stripped’ saw Christina Aguilera bare her most vulnerable self on tracks such as ‘Beautiful’, the set also ushered in the arrival of “Xtina”.

Many cite the release of single ‘Dirrty’ as the singer’s official transformation from teen-queen to sex-symbol, often neglecting the fact that the album itself packed a number of sensual moments to aide her racy agenda. The most notable of such cuts? ‘Get Mine, Get Yours’.

Unapologetic before Rihanna was, the mid-tempo blazer served as a manual for a “no strings attached” ‘encounter’. Critiqued by some for too quickly accelerating the star’s shift from role-model to rock-star, the cut remains noteworthy in that it’s the female commanding the male to “freak my body, baby, nasty naughty, baby”.

In many ways, it’s songs like this that paved the way for the sexual liberation of some of today’s most risque female acts. Xtina the feminist? That’s up for debate. What is certain, though, is that the song is fire! {SAM}

LISTEN: [audiotube id="DDyPYh3xBh8"]

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Whitney Houston – Call You Tonight

 

As many know, 2009 brought with it the chart return of the legendary Whitney Houston. Christened ‘I Look To You’, which would go on to be her last) was  a stellar collection of carefully crafted hits and material which embraced both her legacy and vocal ability at the time.

Interestingly, throwback groove ‘Million Dollar Bill’ was picked to launch the LP’s campaign, somewhat unfortunate  because said album housed a classic-in-the-waiting in the form of fan-favorite ‘Call You Tonight’.

Helmed by Stargate and Johnta Austin, the mid-tempo gem did a stellar job showcasing Nippy’s then-“new voice” and was the perfect representation of what a Whitney record should sound like in 2009 (or 2012 for the matter). With engaging lyrics, great melodies, and a powerful yet understated vocal performance, ‘Tonight’ was arguably a missed opportunity to make her Platinum coloured comeback even more triumphant. {JOE}

LISTEN:  [audiotube id="WolnrWxOj8s"]

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Destiny’s Child – Killing Time

 

Dwarfed by the success of later albums and subsequent solo careers, Destiny’s Child‘s 1998 self titled debut never quite gets the recognition it deserves – on many a front.
Boasting songs which bridged Pop, Country and R&B, the LP’s strongest point – save for ‘No No No’ – comes courtesy of Stinson/Wiggins produced ‘Killing Time’.

 

Packing a crossover appeal much of today’s R&B lacks, ‘Time’ sees DC at their best, serving the conviction and harmonies unmatched by any of their then-rivals.

 

Clearly the inspiration for much of the material on Kelly Rowland’s first solo outing ‘Simply Deep’, here’s hoping the coming years see the disbanded group shine a little more light on the cut and the supporting album so many consider…a classic. {DAVID}
LISTEN: [audiotube id="j9M2RWSZl-k"]
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Christina Milian – Never Mind

 

Picture this:  You’re at the club…getting your groove on.  Next thing you know, you spot a fine so-and-so doing their thing. They turn around…and in a split second things go from sugar to you-know-what. ‘Dip It Low’ diva Christina Milian thought to share that scenario in song.

 

The track is lifted from one of many studio sessions the singer had when crafting (what was to be) the follow-up to her 2006 album ‘So Amazin’ (see: scrapped albums ‘Elope’, ‘Dream In Color’).  And while the attache project never surfaced, Milian proves once again with this number that she is able to cook-up a radio friendly joint whenever she tries. When, and if, that will ever be fully manifested again…only time will tell. {RASHAD}
LISTEN: [audiotube id="N_3Xuu3eIdU"]
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The Best You Never Heard: Usher’s Unexpected Duets

6229c55fb7ed72fef88d35caacf46d2c The Best You Never Heard:  Ushers Unexpected Duets

R&B ringleader Usher has long stood a solo symbol of the R&B divo – outlasting many of his 90’s male (and female) contemporaries to usher in chart-topping albums and singles over several genres.  While able to claim the title of one of the most successful male solo acts of all time, the singer has still found time to lay his recognizable falsetto over many-a-rapper’s hooks and hits.

But, some may not know of his oft-under praised duets with singing co-stars.

On the heels of today’s ‘Lemme See’ video release (which features Rick Ross) and news the singer was set to duet with the late Amy Winehouse shortly before her death, That Grape Juice looks to salute Ush’s smoother musical couplings with some of R&B’s leading divas – Beyonce, Brandy, Alicia Keys, and Omarion.  Get into old favorites and new acquaintances below:

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The Best You Never Heard: Whitney Houston’s Hidden Gems

a559bc2875030588c2e6b8312f8f037e The Best You Never Heard:  Whitney Houstons Hidden Gems

Today the world stopped to say goodbye to Grammy-winning pop icon Whitney Houston.  Laid to rest at Newark’s New Hope Baptist Church, the very church where she got her start, tearful mourners watched the emotional service with hopes of saying farewell to the fallen icon.  With an unparalleled career that moved over 170 million albums and landed 11 number 1 singles (7 of them consecutively) with just 6 LPs and 2 soundtracks, Miss Houston has left behind a legacy that will know no rival.

Even with such a well loved catalogue, there are a number of tunes oft-overlooked of the ‘So Emotional’ singer’s discography.  In such, That Grape Juice looks to honor ‘The Voice’ by sharing our favorites from her illustrious collection.  Get into them below:

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The Best You Never Heard: Best of British Edition

best you never heard 11 The Best You Never Heard: Best of British Edition

The gargantuan success of Adele last year etched the UK deeper into the consciousness of today’s music-loving mass.

Indeed, prior to then, modern Britannia routinely churned out acts whose success was largely of the critical persuasion – with limited global presence.

And, yet while our charts naturally boast a heavy US presence, it’d be criminal to overlook the contained contributions which have made our industry one of the most revered in the world.

This week, Best You Never Heard, celebrates those contributions with a special Best of British Edition.

So without further adieu…

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Will Young – Your Game

Hailed as of the first “credible” talent show winners,  Will Young hit a homerun with his sophomore set ‘Friday’s Child’. Indeed, the 2004 album saw the Pop Idol winner ditch the cover-heavy material of his first LP in favour of flavoursome Pop; songs which really spotlighted the soulfulness of his voice.

And while the album as a body of work was stellar, no track stood out louder nor brighter than ‘Your Game’. Penned by Young and Taio Cruz, the cut is a delicious melody of Pop, Funk, and Soul.

Upon release, the track respectably charted at #3 on the Official UK Singles Chart. Although, it so clearly was worthy of nabbing the top spot. A stance the BRIT Awards seems to concur with; the song was honoured with the ‘Best Single’ gong at the 2005 ceremony.

LISTEN:   

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All Saints – Under The Bridge

The 90’s pervasiveness of Girl Power saw the Spice Girls overshadow many female groups – both home and away. However, for many, London collective All Saints provided the perfect antithesis to the cheese and camp Ginger, Sporty and co served up for mass consumption.

Gritty, edgy, and devoid of the bells and whistles which defined Pop acts of that era, the Saints were wholly compelling. For, not only were they able to fuse R&B and 90’s Pop, they did so while remaining markedly “British”.

Ironically, one of the best examples of this is their unique take on the Red Hot Chilli Peppers‘ rock hit ‘Under The Bridge’.

While lyrically and melodically identical to the original, the 1998 track evokes an air of “fresh” – recooking a well-known rock smash  into an Urban number which still goes hard today.

Listen: 

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Keisha White – The Weakness In Me

2006 saw R&B chanteuse  Keisha White deliver her best effort yet with ‘The Weakness In Me’.

A stirring cover of Joan Armatrading‘s song of the same name, White laced the track a new layer of authenticity, delivering the lyrics with ample conviction. With her vocal emotion set to production which built into a rousing climax, this had all the makings of  blockbuster ballad – a fact which makes its #17 charting still hard to swallow.

Nonetheless, as we’ve made common-practice here at That Grape Juice, it’s important to celebrate “good music” – irrespective of its charting. And this, right here, is timeless.

Listen: 

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Misteeq – Scandalous

As far as UK Urban acts go, Misteeq are as noteworthy as noteworthy gets.

Rising to prominence in 2001 (as part of the UK’s growing Garage scene), the trio  scored a total of 9 top ten singles, a Platinum certification for their debut effort ‘Lickin’ On Both Sides‘ and Gold status for its follow up ‘Eye Candy‘. However, it’s ‘Scandalous‘ which cemented the ladies in the British history books.

Released March 17th 2003, the Stargate produced cut peaked at #2 in the UK and #35 on the Billboard Hot 100 respectively, spearheaded by a scorching hot video, courtesy of Jake Nava who later went onto direct Beyonce’s ‘Crazy In Love‘.

Picked up Giorgio Armani’s ‘Armani Code‘ ads in 2007 and Halle Berry‘s ‘Catwoman’ three years prior, ‘Scandalous’- in its own strange way- is just as celebrated by Pop culture as it is overlooked, even today.

Yet, with all three members credited for penning the track, we’re sure it is giving them just as much to celebrate today as it did when it turned them into Brit Pop icons almost a decade ago.

Listen: 

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The Best You Never Heard: The A, B, Cs of Alicia Keys

alicia keys The Best You Never Heard:  The A, B, Cs of Alicia Keys

Since her 2001 introduction with ‘Songs In A Minor’, 14-time Grammy winner Alicia Keys has been making major moves on the music scene.  Aside from sharing stages and studio time with legends Prince, Stevie Wonder, Sting, Bono, and more, Keys has earned the respect of and played co-star to many of today’s contemporary stars (i.e. Christina Aguilera, Beyonce, Timbaland, etc).

With anticipation of her nearly completed 5th album, today – her 31st birthday – That Grape Juice seeks to salute the songstress who made it cool to keep your clothes on tickle the keys again.

Her catalog may boast some of the noughties’ biggest hits like ‘Fallin’,’If I Ain’t Got You’,  ‘No One’, and more, but there are some gems that sunk in the shadows of her more acclaimed numbers.

Get into a few of these after the jump:

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