Rookie singers want a piece of the MTV pie

by Emily Friedlander | May 24, 2000
Rookie singers want a piece of the MTV pie Why should Britney and Whitney get all the attention? As teenybopper Spears battles it out with dame Houston at the top of the charts, these female artists grapple for the public`s attention - or at least some play on MTV. Many of these albums are debut releases, pushed along with the help of big-name producers.

"Fear of Flying"; Mya; Interscope.

Mya`s first release, "Mya," got more buzz for the 20-year-old`s model looks than for the Brandy-style bubble-gum cuts. Two years later, "Fear of Flying" captures Mya on the brink of maturity. The 18 tracks sound like a Lauryn Hill/N`Sync hybrid and are difficult to differentiate from each other. But the beats are fresh and energetic - they`re the kinds of songs aerobics instructors loop endlessly. The daisy-faced singer has been crowing lately about freedom and self-reliance, but credit for this album`s success needs to be shared. Prominent producers include the Lox`s Jadakiss and ex-Fugee Wyclef Jean. Too bad these industry insiders couldn`t do more to fix up the endlessly similar tracks.

"Dirty Harriet"; Rah Digga; Elektra.

Rah Digga got her start as the only female member of Busta Rhymes Flip Mode Squad. "Dirty Harriet" is a much-anticipated debut release that showcases Digga`s powerful vocal ability. The album has a quasi-original hip-hop sound - not the kind of rap that starts a revolution, but cranking funky backbeats make these 16 tracks worth a listen. Don`t expect much lyrically; Rah Digga`s bravado chants aren`t much different from the offerings of her current male counterparts, but she stays away from the blatant crassness of, say, Li`l Kim. Squarely in the rap genre, Digga shouldn`t be confused with the lighter fare reviewed here. This isn`t bubble gum. It`s more like an intense cinnamon Tic Tac. Tracks like "Do the Ladies Run This" and "What`s Up With That" would make Britney blush.

"Can`t Take Me Home"; Pink: LaFace Records/Arista.

Smooth, soulful and cleanly produced, Pink`s debut release is an unequivocally derivative collection of R&B singles. Granted, she`s written more than half of these tracks, but that doesn`t mean they`re anything more than the petty ramblings of an 18-year-old. In interviews, Pink has said she`d prefer not to be grouped with contemporaries such as Christina Aguilera. The thing is, this is precisely where the pink-haired, MTV-styled singer belongs. But, again, aerobics instructors will be pleased with the selection of hyperactive tracks, which were produced with the help of Babyface.

"Hoku"; Hoku; Geffen.

To characterize Hoku`s self-titled debut as "teen pop" is to do a disservice to 13-year-olds. (This 17-year-old singer is questionably well-connected: Her father is the Hawaiian lounge-club favorite Don Ho.) This hyper-sweetened bubble-gum pop is painfully rendered, with synthesized beats that sound like they were produced by a teen-age boy for play at a 5-year old`s birthday party. But the perky blonde`s won half the battle in the fight for stardom: She looks great on the album cover.

"Key of a Minor"; Jessica Riddle; Hollywood Records.

"Key of a Minor" has the kind of psuedo-alternative pop entirely appropriate to the "Dawson`s Creek" set. Riddle, a 19-year-old singer-

songwriter, has put together 11 tracks that have a full pop sound derivative of older singers such as Cher. The lyrics range from icky, "I want to suck on your lips/ I want to melt in your arms," to cheesy, "you will fly and you will crawl/ God knows even angels fall."

"I`m Sorry" is refreshingly sarcastic: she jokingly croons, "I know that you are stronger than me because you are a man/ thank God you are a man." To Riddle`s credit, her smooth voice is a pleasurable listen - somewhere between brassy and dulcet. A little maturity would help her lyrically, but this album bodes well for a better sophomore effort.

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Author: Emily Friedlander


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