samedi 31 janvier 2009

Welcome to the Alesha Dixon Show

There is an album that was released in the UK at the end of 2008 and that is to get a release in the coming months in France that I JUST CAN'T GET OUT OF MY home CD player, car CD player, MP3 player... It is called The Alesha Show and is by Alesha Dixon.

From jamaïcan roots but born in the UK, Alesha was part of the R&B/garage UK girlsband MIS-TEEQ and first tried to go solo in 2006 with a #14 summer hit, Lipstick. The following single, Knockdown, a Xenomania production, failed to hit the top of the charts and her follow-up album Fired Up! only got released in Japan the next year... Her solo career looked all but bright from that moment on but in 2007, she appeared in a TV british show, Strictly Come Dancing, where her dance skills and personality helped her steal the lights and win the show. Brian Higgins, head of the Xenomania team, who produced her 70's inspired Knockdown flop, called her to work on new songs and The boy does nothing was born. It led her to a #5 UK hit and opened her the doors to another CD contract with Warner Music... Thankfully! Welcome to the Alesha Show could easily end 2009 as my Album of the year from now on... Let me explain why with a full track by track review :

1/ Welcome to the Alesha Show 15/20
From a 25 seconds intro in its CD form to a full length 3'18 song, Welcome to the Alesha Show is a sassy R&B mixture that makes me think of the PussyCat Dolls, upbeat and entertaining. Naturally the CD version only marks the intro of the album and opens it up perfectly after the first look from the cover art. The full version is a free downloadable mp3 you get by puting your CD in your PC while connecting to the site of the artist. Although only in 128 kb quality, it's the kind of initiative that will help us buy more physical supports...

2/ Let's get excited 18/20
Let's get excited spices things up with this perfect upbeat that could easily be a further single off the album. Energetic, sexy, funny, this song has it all to make our heart melt and our feet move.

3/ Breathe slow
Breathe slow, on the opposite site, calms the tempo down with a mellow intro, delicate vocals and sweet melody. It has been chosen as the second single, maybe not to follow on too easily on the success of the first hit The boy does nothing. Soulshock & Karlin are the ones behind this haunting song that is a true grower. There's a Cahill remix that elevates it into an atmospherical trance-dance number with success too.

4/ Cinderella shoe
Rolling drums and a 60's inspired gimmick let us in the following track, first Xenomania collaboration on the CD, and like previous singles a true masterpiece. Repetitive but addictive, Cinderella shoe is a cute old-fashioned though modern popsong you can't get out of your head! Another contender for a single release... I've got one complain though : the song, at 2'41, is WAY too short for its brightness and appeal.

5/ The boy does nothing
"I've got a man with two left feet" goes Alesha in the intro of the song and the first seconds stick to your brain and capture your heart and soul completely : there's no denying Brian Higgins and his Xenomania team know how to write a hit, although melting verses, choruses in a joyful chaotic melting-pot. Based on a mambo rhythm, The boy does nothing is a feelgood instant song you can't get enough of. There is a promo only Bimbo Jones remix but while I'm usually addicted to their remixes more than to the originals, this time, their transformation of the song into an electro dark-house number fails to distract me from the original mambo dancing piece of art.

6/ Chasing ghosts
Chasing ghost is another haunting mellow mid-tempo track, with musical arrangements inspired by the 70's, produced by Steve Booker so sounding a bit like the Sugababes as he has worked with them lately too. This song is another grower and single potential.

7/ Play me
Xenomania's on board again and Play me is another rhythm frenzy with an upbeat chorus and piano led melody that goes round and round till it's stuck in your head. Maybe a little too repetitive for a single release but who knows?

8/ Hand it over
Time to fly to the other side of the Atlantic for a string of tracks, the first of ones by Harvey Mason Jr. The verses and overall melody are totally bland, with no real strong lines you can memorize ...until you reach the chorus. It comes in like a raging storm that rush into your ears and make you love the song you were about to quit by using the skip button... It saves the song from being a waste of time and leaves you surprised with a strong overall loving feeling, like you were kidnapped and all fell in love because of Stockholm syndrome.

9/ Do you know the way it feels
Cheesy standard ballad time! But what a wonderful time it is. We get on track 9 an invitation by none other than ballads-writer-of-the-century Diane Warren on writing duties along Stephen Lipson on production skills. So Do you know the way it feels doesn't take us by surprise : it's all warm and sweet, melancholic and emotional but uplifting like every Diane Warren song that has H-I-T written all over it. This one could easily fit on the soundtrack of some Hollywood romantic blockbuster and help Alesha break in the US market.

10/ Can I begin
A strong beat breaks in back although we're still in the mid-tempos territory with (How) Can I begin (to love again). The song is a nice and pleasant love song and good album filler but maybe three midtempos in a row is too much. I'm starting to get sleepy Zzzzzz Zzzzzz...

11/ Italians do it better
Thankfully Italians do it better speeds it up just a little bit but with so much melodic perfection that it feels like you're falling deep in a marshmallow-made warm bed full of lips, arms and legs embracing you, kissing you, making love to you... The song, another Xenomania masterpiece, is all about Alesha's man who, although not italian, does it better than anyone. The song's all about LOVE and you can feel it in her warm voice, mellow and sweet like honey. The world NEEDS this song to be a single to help us heal from the crisis' wounds simply with these simple words of love... When we hear this, we all feel like we're in love, deep in love, so deep nothing else matters than push on the repeat button.

12/ Ooh baby I like it like that
From now on, Xenomania reigns over the end of the CD and Ooh baby takes us back when times were full of eurodance gimmick lines like I like it like that or come on and touch me, BUT with a modern sound. Again, it's pure pop perfection, this time with some dance-clubbin' funky vibe, still sexy, still joyful and still addictive. Repeat. Repeat. It feels so good to surrender to your index control...

13/ Don't ever let me go
Back now to sounds of yesterdays revamped for today, Don't ever let me go is all sunny and bright with mellow verses and a breezy uplifting chorus you can't help but sing along to. Another highlight of the album.

14/ I'm thru
Originally a song by Xenomania team member Miranda 'Moonbaby' Cooper for a promotional EP that didn't help her get a signature for a major release, I'm thru (with love) is a nice feelgood 70's inspired song. It seems so incredible how Xenomania unreleased songs get recycled for other artists like if it was the PWL Hit Factory times again, when songs that flopped were given to another artist by Stock Aitken & Waterman to make it a hit. From the Moonbaby EP, three out of four have been re-vamped : Here we go for Aqua front-girl Lene, then for Girls Aloud, who were given Deadlines & Diets too, and now I'm thru with love. Only Moonbaby may look like too sticky to its original singer for not being re-used on another Xenomania project...

15/ Mystery (hidden track)
On the same CD track as I'm trhu comes a hidden track, Mystery, that finishes the album all in rhythm and hands in the air bouncing musical energy.

I don't wanna mess around (other downloadable bonus)
Now if you insert your CD in your PC while connecting to the Alesha Dixon site you get two bonus downloadable tracks, Welcome to the Alesha show in full version and this one. I don't wanna mess around is a pleasant upbeat song but you understand why it is only a bonus track. Compared to the perfection and addictive sides of previously reviewed tracks, this one sounds a little middle-of-the-road.

Colours of the rainbow (free downloadable song from the Alesha site)
Colours of the rainbow, on the contrary, although just a free teaser for the album from her site, is another incredible song ; maybe more electronical than the others to be included on the CD, it has a good melody and a very good chorus you want to sing along : it goes "I'm like the colours of the rainbow, red, white, gold and blue..."

Gold, that's all I wish for Alesha and this record. Gold, Silver, Diamond, every kind of sales prizes in every country The Alesha Show will get a release because it is simply a CD you cannot live without.
It has everything inside : party music, dance routines, emotional moments, love sounds, joyful funkiness, sympathic girl-next-door confidences...

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