Posts Tagged ‘Whitney Houston’

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bits and pieces.

July 29, 2009

First things first: if you happened to read my previous post, you might think that I am a teensy bit crazy.  I want to promise you that while I can be less rational at some times than at others, the only reason why I sounded so unhinged was because my father was driving me insane.  He finally went to bed at 12:30, after I drank some of his cider behind his back to hurry up the process.  He slumped away from his laptop, defeated and worn down.  I think I made my point. 😉 But please excuse my temper (not physically violent Naomi-temper, but hot-blooded Italian super-stubborn arm-waving raised voice temper), I’ll try to keep it in check for y’all 🙂

I can’t get this new song by LeToya Luckett out of my head:

It’s called “Don’t Need You”, and it’s going to be on her new album Lady Love, which I am highly anticipating.  I relate to the song because as much as I should appreciate the freedom of single life and the fun of being able to appreciate who’s hot and who’s not, and being able to flirt when I want (something which I continued to do during my brief period dating L, which was an indication that it just wasn’t right), I still feel like I want to be with somebody, and I still feel lonely.  So this song reminds me that really, we don’t need anyone but ourselves, because 90% of the time people, especially boyfriends or potential boyfriends, only let you down in the end (or quite often, at the beginning).  But the reason why I have been listening to it is because of the very first lyric:

It’s Monday morning, checked my cell phone / but nobody’s calling me.
I try to ignore it but it’s sinking in / that I’m all alone with me.

If you’ve been reading my blogs lately, you’ll have picked up on how important being able to communicate is with me.  I don’t expect a constant barrage of attention (that’s actually a big no-no, because you should have better things to do with your day 😉 ) but I do expect a little bit of consideration, and I expect any correspondence I make to be returned within a decent period of time (I think 24 hours is lenient and appropriate).  So I keep kicking myself when I find myself constantly checking my phone wondering why I seem to send people texts which don’t get returned, asking questions that get ignored and realising that the effort that I put into laying foundations for dates and maintaining friendships isn’t always reciprocated.  Why bother? Why keep trying?  Does that make me the fool?  I’m not exactly glued to my phone, but it is a mobile phone, the concept behind which is that I keep it on me so that I can contact and be contacted when I am not at home.  The mobile phone does not serve its purpose when its battery is depleted, when you cannot hear it or feel it, or when you leave it in your bag on silent for 3 days.  You might as well chuck it out of the car window and then reverse over it a few times.  What’s the point of having a cell phone if you’re not going to use it, and what’s the point of swapping numbers with me if you don’t want to talk?  That’s why the above lyrics speak to me – because obviously I’m the dumb one (and my friends are of the same philosophy, so we are all dumb together) expecting these things and checking my phone regardless.

Looking at my tag cloud, it strikes me that the 3 biggest things (at the moment) are “appreciating life”, “music” and “relationships”.  I guess I am glad that I am not a one-dimensional person, and I am able to write about lots of different facets of my life, because I suppose it means that I am not totally boring.  Today I went and had coffee with Hannah, saw a totally beautiful but too expensive Armani bag that I will not even consider buying before I have a paycheck again (or at least until my credit card ticks over to September 😉 ), got an interview for a call centre which I am going to do even though the hospital thing seems more or less certain (I take nothing for granted in the current job market!) and had some good news regarding university funding which I might well receive after all because I have XY chromosomes. But I was wondering, a couple of my friends say that my blog goes deeper than “today I did this and that” and say that I should be the male Carrie Bradshaw.  Apart from being a huge compliment, one reason why I don’t know if I am ready for that is because I don’t know if I could choose one niche to write about.  I suppose relationships is the most meaty topic, and there are plenty of music blogs that are much more devoted to the daily developments than I would be.  I wonder how you get to be a columnist?  In any case, I have noticed that (the Whitney Houston post aside!) I tend to get more views on writing about topics that are personal to me and yet relatable to everyone, like relationships and frustrations and life’s mysteries and conundrums.  I find that touching, and while I hope for my life to go smooth and to live happily ever after with a rich Brazilian model and a lucrative music and fashion career, that might never happen and it’s still a work in progress. 😉 So I hope to write more about my relationships and life’s trials and tribulations, and maybe someone will notice and want me to write a column for them.  Anything is possible!  And I am happy to do it, as long as you’re all right here with me. 🙂

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positive speaking.

July 25, 2009

One maxim that I try to live by, wherever possible, is that of “if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all”.  Of course, it’s natural that we aren’t 100% happy and sweetness and light all of the time, and nobody is a perfect saint, but I try never to be deliberately nasty or spiteful towards people if I can at all help it.  If I feel resentment towards somebody, it is something that I try to channel in a constructive way, or keep to myself so that they won’t know how I feel.  I believe that it is classier not to diss people, and although occasionally I can’t resist the urge, most of the time I can.  Instead of wasting time hating on others, I try to step my own game up – that’s my response.

After my video singing Whitney Houston’s new song was posted on Thursday, I received a barrage of comments on my youtube account, as well as some comments on a Whitney forum.  Some people were positive, some people were critical, which is fine.  Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.  What really irks me (and what I am always prepared for, because I’ve been doing these youtube videos on and off for 2 years now) is the senseless hateful comments that I get.  I understand that if somebody covers your favourite artist’s song, you may be a bit disgruntled because you like the original version.  But it doesn’t mean that nobody else is ever allowed to sing that song.  I’m not trying to be Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston or Chris Brown, I’m just having fun singing a song.  And I try to separate the genuinely valid comments from the ridiculous (for example: “Whoever told you you were good has mental problems” O RLY? I feel sorry for my friends, for the entirety of my school and its teaching staff, for the students of Oxford University, for a couple of Oxford journalists.  We’re all crazy! Bish please.) and improve upon what I can.  I know I am not the consummate singer, and I am not perfect.  Of course, you can’t please everyone.  But if you have nothing constructive to say, or nothing to back your criticism up, then please keep your mouth shut.  I make it a rule never to reply to comments on youtube because I don’t want to dilute anyone’s opinion, nor enter into a slanging match with any deranged fans.  I sing the song, I make my video, and then I let people say what they want.  It’s freedom of speech.  But if you can’t be nice, at least be classy!

It’s not just me, obviously.  There are plenty of comments on youtube saying Beyoncé is a fat whore (um?), Mariah Carey cannot sing (The Voice? yeah right), that singers who are legitimate superstars are rubbish at their craft.  And while I don’t like every famous singer out there, I have respect for their hustle and appreciate that it is not easy to put yourself up for criticism and hate (as well as adoration and love 😉 ) night after night and day after day.  You have to be incredibly thick-skinned  to keep on going – to give her her due, Paris Hilton made her album and records her tv shows and doesn’t give a fuck what people say and think about her.  If it’s negative, they’re still wasting their negative energy talking about her, so it’s all promotion and job done.  That is something I have a lot of respect for.  But these armchair critics who think they are Simon Cowell are only feeding into these people’s fame, and if you don’t wanna hear from them anymore, then you have to go one better.  If you aren’t willing to do that, or you’re not capable of it, then you should sit your ass down and keep your mouth shut.  If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

I wanted to also congratulate my friend Hannah on her family dog sitting job she’s netted in September – she’s getting £500 for a week’s work!  Of course I am slightly jealous, because I could really do with £500 myself.  But instead of criticising her or being unsupportive, I congratulated her and am genuinely happy for her, not just because she is one of my very best and closest friends, but because I don’t believe I am a negative or spiteful person.  If somebody does something well, has a great stroke of luck, or is talented, I congratulate them and express my appreciation.  You get what you give, and I believe in passing out positive energy instead of negative.  It all comes back around to you, ultimately, even if it’s a long time in coming… But I never understood the point of hating on people who are luckier or more talented than you in a specific area… instead of wasting your time hating on them, you get your game up.  I am hugely envious of models and guys with better bodies, but instead of commiserating at home eating Ben & Jerrys, I get my ass down the gym and watch what I eat because I want that body and my determination to get it will one day pay off (even if it could hurry up. please.). That will be the sweetest victory.  As Blu Cantrell says, “Revenge is better than money you seeeeeeee!” (“Hit ‘Em Up Style”)  So don’t hate; appreciate, and step your game up… because when the time comes that people are hating on you, you must be doing something right!

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intangible.

July 24, 2009

Two of my very favourite things in my life are music and fragrance.  Music has been something I have loved from day one, and I never looked back: ever since I was little my mum and I would dance around the living room to Whitney Houston, Belinda Carlisle, Kool & The Gang records (on vinyl! Somewhere in my bedroom is Mariah Carey’s very first single “Vision Of Love” on vinyl, which I imagine might be worth some money!).  We’d sing along to Bon Jovi, Lionel Richie and the Pointer Sisters in the car (on cassette), and as soon as we had MTV I knew that my ideal vocation was a pop star.  I think by force of habit (I was singing long before I got my first Mariah Carey album, which was at age 12) I made myself a decent singer, and once I was 13 I broke through at my school singing anywhere and everywhere, making myself a little celebrity status and signing autographs at school (it was a stressful time with gossip and rumours, but also a lot of fun, and I enjoyed the renown.).  I did concerts, dance competitions, displays and random other stuff, and I made myself my own brand… it was good training for the real world!  But primarily, I did these things because I love to sing, I love to dance, and I have always enjoyed these things.  To sound corny, they make me feel free and allow me to escape the monotony, depression and pain of everyday life, and the fact that I seem to be genuinely talented (though I need occasional reassurance from my friends, now that I don’t do performances very often, that I’m not secretly shit – they are always supportive of me 🙂 ) is a bonus.  But writing songs, making my own music, and singing along to everything is such an intrinsic part of who I am, and it’s something that can’t be taken away from me (unless you rip out my larynx) because it’s intangible.  It’s the air I breathe, the way I control my voice, the years of daily practice… it’s nothing tangible.  It’s more ethereal and spiritual to me.

On the other hand, my love of fragrance is something much more recent in comparison.  Though I realised, leafing through the Avon catalogue tonight, that I have had fragrance in my life since the age of 15, when I used to buy their cheap n cheerful classics Black Suede, Modern Balance, Mesmerise… I can’t remember what my first “proper” fragrance was (I know my mum bought me CK Contradiction when I turned 17, but I don’t know what the first one I bought for myself was), but I have always loved Black XS, Dior Homme and A*Men, and despite working at a perfume shop for a year and a half and coming into contact with all the brands and all the scents a guy could want, those are still probably my favourites (along with a couple of others 😉 )!  I think there is something so captivating and seductive about someone who smells intoxicatingly good, it’s like an addictive allure (wading into Bai Ling territory there…).  Although a lot of fragrances have a ridiculously long list of notes of which most normal people can only smell two or three, there is something mysterious about the way certain aromas or elements (well, they’re actually aromachemicals, but we can pretend it’s something more organic and exotic 😉 ) are combined to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.  And again, it’s something that travels on the wind, something subjective that triggers individual reactions and desires, something that is unique to each person and which suggests something primal about who that person is (and after all, the fragrance someone wears can tell you a lot about them! Perfume SAs around the world can vouch for this 😉 ).  I think that is why both of these things are so important to me, because they come from within, they are both things which are at once intangible and primal, and they are an opportunity for us to expose the essence of who we are.

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Singing Whitney Houston – I Didn’t Know My Own Strength.

July 23, 2009

Okay, after applying for yet another job today, and working on my final song for my album (which is proving just not to want to obey me!  Making slow progress though… deadline is still July 31st!!!), I realised that I am in good voice.  So I decided to record myself singing a song.  And I have been enjoying Whitney Houston’s new song “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength”, taken from her upcoming comeback album I Look To You.  I can’t imagine this album not doing well… it has so much promotion and attention behind it, and Whitney genuinely sounds in good voice. We’ll see.. fingers crossed.  So here is a video of me on youtube (channel = onyxparadise) singing the song!  I hope you enjoy it.  Things I am already aware that I need to improve:

  • I have to learn to keep my damn head still in front of the camera!  To me, this is the biggest thing… I guess I’m n2da music haha.
  • I must speak less at the beginning of songs.  And remember to use my low voice lol.
  • I need to make my falsetto a bit more gritty… though tbh I doubt that is going to change, this is my voice and at least I can do all the notes!

Other than those things, I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out!  If you want to compare it with the original, you can stream that here.  And below is my version, acapella!  I hope that you enjoy it… and I hope to do more and better videos for y’all in the future! 🙂

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veterans.

July 21, 2009

I opened up Crunk + Disorderly yesterday morning and was confronted by this post about Cyndi Lauper & Lil’ Kim’s recent performance at the Nelson Mandela concert.  Kim looked fantastic (better and better, certainly an improvement on recent years, with her weight back down and her face not looking so exaggeratedly plastic), and I was intrigued to watch the performance.

I was blown away.

Okay, Cyndi Lauper sounded like a goat at the start, and I’m not used to hearing the classic “Time After Time” over a hip-hop-lite beat.  But then Kim opened her mouth and sang, and my jaw dropped to the floor. Kim is a fantastic rapper, and the undisputed best female we have (especially since Foxy, Eve and Lauryn have all but vacated their seats) in the current game.  I remember ordering her Notorious KIM album from amazon, and bringing it to school on the day it arrived and causing a storm because I was listening to explicit material (I was 14! but it was a private school, so who knows 😉 ).  I did feel a thrill in playing it to my friends and listening to a woman spit explicitly sexual rhymes over exciting space-pop-hop beats, and ultimately I’ve become a fan of hers who possesses all her albums.  Her records are never anything less than lyrically complex and sonically thrilling.  But between albums, Kim doesn’t seem to be so consistent with her promotion nor her other ventures, so this video of her singing “Time After Time” was a beautiful surprise.  As was the fact that, although she sounded a little shaky (although she’s gotten flack for ‘singing’ on her rap records, she generally keeps in tune and the songs are always fun and playful), her voice was beautiful and hit the notes more or less consistently through the performance.

When it segued into “Lighters Up”, and Kim and Cyndi both traded rhymes, I was impressed at both of them for fusing their styles into something heartfelt and potentially classic: it was an unforgettable moment.  I hope you enjoy the video, because after her run on Dancing With The Stars was unfairly cut short, Kim seems much more dedicated to proving just competent and talented an entertainer is, and showing us more facets of who she is other than through rapping.  It was something a little different, but taking risks does pay off, and Lil’ Kim proved she is a veteran of the rap game who can do things other rappers just don’t do (Lauryn did, but not anymore… I guess Missy and Queen Latifah are also exceptions, but then they’re also veterans too, in their own ways).  I hope you enjoy the performance as much as I did.

This goes to show that the truly talented can never be counted out: Madonna, Mariah Carey, Jay-Z, among many others always have a fanbase to come home to, as long as they keep displaying their talented and the reason why they are legends.  Whitney Houston’s new album I Look To You will drop in August, and I have a feeling it might be her turn now… although the leaked tracks from the record don’t sound amazing, the set looks like it will sound classy and restrained and come from an emotionally mature place following her troubles of the past few years.  At the end of the day, if you still have it, then you have nothing to be afraid of because nobody can take your talent away; you have to surrender it.  And in the long run, it’s the veterans who never give up.