Saturday, April 18, 2009

Fly Chick: Kristinia DeBarge

I need to get better with these postings. I find an artist I really like, and spend too much time grooving rather than writing, and I get beaten to the punch. But at least, in this case, I'm in very good company...

Kristinia (Kris-tin-ee-ah) DeBarge is the 19 year old daughter of James DeBarge, who was 1/6 of the R&B group DeBarge who were signed to Motown Records and came to prominence in the 1980's. Her father was best known, however, for marrying Janet Jackson somewhat secretly in 1984. And while I know what you're probably thinking, Kristinia is not a secret love child of the incredible Ms. J. She was born in 1990, long after James' marriage to Janet had ended.

I'll admit that Kristinia first came into my vague conciousness back in 2003 when she was a competitor on the 'Idol' spinoff, "American Juniors", in which they attempted to construct an American verion of S Club 8 with all of the glitz and amateur splendor of early "Idol" (un-slicked up Ryan Seacrest and all). If you are not familiar, while the show seems hokey to the extreme now, it did introduce us to several musicians who would prove their prowess in the years to come. One of the five winners was Lucy Hale, who now best known as (I'll admit to him being yummy) David Henrie's (of Disney's "Wizards of Waverly Place") on again/off again girlfriend and also in the CW show "Priviledged". Jordan McCoy (now of new Dream) and Katelyn Tarver didn't make the final cut but did make the top ten, and were featured in the "American Juniors" first of two releases, the album Kids in America that was full of covers.

However, even though she didn't even make the top 10, Kristinia made an impact on me -- first because of her famous last name, and then because of her passable performance of Christina Aguilera's "Reflection". Sure, she's no JoJo (who also climbed into the limelight at age 13), but you can see the hints of potential during certain moments. That song is clearly not meant to be sung by someone with a melodic voice like Kristinia, but at least she's not horrible.

The six years since the competition have been good to Kristinia. She has signed a deal with Babyface, and is now a signed artist at Soda Pop, a division of the illustrious Island Def Jam label imprint. Her debut single, "Goodbye", features a heavy sample in the backbeat and during the chorus of Steam's "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye", which went to #1 in the US back in 1969, and was covered in 1983 by the adorable and incredible Bananarama and became a big hit in the UK (not so much here in the US, unfortunately -- even then, didn't understand the incredibleness of UK glitterpop).

PopJustice likens the song to Rihanna's breakthrough smash "S.O.S."...and while I can kind of see a comparison, I'm not so sure I see this song as being something Ms. Ri passed on (although they are signed to sister labels, so you never know). In fact, I see her more as a Paula DeAnda knock-0ff, now that J Records has missed the chance to cash in on a good thing.

Kristinia's voice has clearly matured, however, and like Rihanna and indeed Janet before her, she doesn't let the fact that she doesn't have a big power voice hold her back -- she can bust out the jams like anyone else. I've yet to see a music video or a live performance to judge if she has also matured as a performer, but I can totally see this little cutie work it out...The song itself is a fun little piece of rhythmic pop.

The surprising thing is that Kristinia kind of came out of nowhere, and suddenly seems to be the talk of the town. The song has garnered her serious adds at Top 40 radio here in the USA. "Goodbye" seems to be one of those songs that creeps up on you, but once you hear it, it's like you've known about it all along. While, I will cop that the intro synth blares are very reminiscent of "SOS", it's overall feels more reminsicent of Bananarama's cut, and parts of the verses remind me of Pussycat Dolls's "What You Think About That" (which was a single for...what? two minutes?) It's nothing earth-shattering to be sure, but it's definitely a fun little romp that you'll find yourself wanting to play over and over again. I certainly do.

You can check out "Goodbye" and two other tracks, ("Gotta Be Love" and "Make A Girl Happy"...which, unfortunately, aren't as popalicious as "Goodbye", although the latter has an interestingly swishy backbeat) at Kristinia's (very unpolished) MySpace.

Or just check out "Goodbye" here:


Poster Girl said...

Your opening lines made me laugh (and relate)! "Goodbye" is a fun little pop song, you're right. I didn't know she was on American Juniors.

"Rhythm Of The Night" still gets plays from me, even if it's not always DeBarge's version I go to.

John said...

First off, big ups to you, because every other blog entry I've read that mentions her doesn't mention her dad. Second, she sounds promising. Not Earth-shattering, but definitely promising.

Myfizzypop said...

it's a common problem isn't it? Liking someone and forgetting to write about them! Oh well :) It was this post rather than popjustice however, that made me wanna check her out :)

Ken said...

I defo love these girl! She's amazing. "Goodbye" is just one of those summery pop anthems you'd like to listen over and over again.

Mel said...

PG - :) I write down ideas of what to write about throughout the day while I'm slightly bored at work...but then I never get around to following through! ;) And I totally agree - DeBarge is underrated, and "Rhythm of the Night" shouldn't be ignored.

John - Thanks! :) Any group signed to Motown should be acknowledged, and I'm surprised that fact isn't mentioned more...I was curious about it the minute I saw her name.

Paul - Thanks for the compliment! When I saw the post at PJ, I was so upset because it was already in my drafts here at blogger, and they beat me to the punch!

Ken - Completely and totally agreed! :)

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