Thursday, June 18, 2009

Rockin' Debuts [A Retrospective] (Part Quatro)

The Intro:

It's been awhile since I've done a completely arbitrary and totally opinionated (sort of) chart countdown on this blog, and with all of the potential buzzing right now by new artists with their debut singles, I figured I would take a look back at the best of the debut singles of artists in recent memory, in six painless installments (so keep an eye out). Take a look and reminisce. We're halfway through! Part 1 is here, Part 2 is here, and Part 3 is here.

8. P!NK - There You Go (2000)
Official music video here.

Before P!NK was the rockin' pop queen she is today, she was first introduced to the
world during a time when every female singer was young, blonde and singing sugary pop. So, Ms. Alicia Moore slipped on to our radio with the catchy "There You Go", an R&B spiced little number that was produced by She'kspere and former Xscape member Kandi -- capitalizing on her strong vocals. However, as time wore on, P!NK began to drop the R&B edge (and her p!nk hair) to become the P!NK we know today.

The song rose to #7 on the US Hot 100 (she only recently gained her first #1 with "So What" last year), and P!NK -- now five albums deep -- has gone on to sell over 30 million albums worldwide, and as my friend, the Prophet, has pointed out, led to awe-struck-inducing success in Australia. It's about time her homeland truly appreciates her -- because who would have thought nine years ago that P!NK would still be around, cranking out quality pop? I suppose there was just something about her -- something you can't put your finger on -- that told you something was different about this one...

7. Christina Aguilera - "Genie In A Bottle" (1999)
Official music video here.

Not unlike P!NK, Ms. Christina Aguilera(-Bratman) was known from day one for her vocals, even if they take a slight backseat in her debut track, a true reflection of the late 90's teen pop boom, "Genie In A Bottle". While some insist her true debut was with the big Disney ballad "Reflection" off of the 'Mulan' soundtrack the year prior, it was "Genie" that gained Xtina the recognition she deserved, and helped solidify teen-pop's clutch on the country when it hit #1 for five whole weeks, and to this day, it remains to be her biggest hit.

The song was written by David Frank and Steve Kipner, the duo also behind the equally adorable "He Luvs U Not" by Dream. While Christina found the song somewhat claustriphobic due for her desire to show the world what she can really do with her big pipes, the decision to release "Genie" first had obvious merit, as are still looking forward to material from Aguilera, who has a fourth album, Light & Darkness, due for a September release. Since "Genie", Aguilera has gone on to sell over 42 million albums worldwide.

I remember exactly where I was when I first heard "Genie" on the radio, and also distinctly remember the goosebumps I felt. I've been a devoted fan ever since, no matter the criticism. Every generation has their requisite reigning vocal queens, and it's clear for the children of the 90's that Christina is ours.

6. Spice Girls - Wannabe (1996)
Official music video here.

Love them or hate them - the Spice Girls changed the game when they released 1996's "Wannabe" and helped usher back in pop music to the radiowaves of America after several years of grunge, R&B and gangster rap dominated. The song alone has sold six million copies worldwide, making it the best selling single by a female group EVER. The song went to #1 all around the world, including in my home country for four weeks (their only #1), and while it seems the Spice Girls left as quickly as they came, they are a quintessential part of pop, and remain to be a formula that most girl groups continue to aspire toward. To date, they have sold over 40 million albums and 24 million singles worldwide.

Let me tell you, back when I was in the fourth grade, this song was the ultimate of jams to sing during recess and slumber parties with your best girlfriends. "Girl Power!" was entered into the lexicon, and I distinctly remember fighting with my friends over who got to be Baby Spice when we made up dance moves to the songs (I was usually "forced" to be Scary Spice because I had curly hair. Now, she remains relevant thanks to her kicking serious ass on "Dancing With the Stars" a few years I'm proud of my sleepover history). Looking back now, whether or not they truly stood for "Girl Power" is debatable as it's much more obvious now just how fabricated they were, but a lot of good pop comes from pre-fab groups, so who am I to complain?

Complete with ridiculously innate lyrics ("If you wanna be with my lover, you gotta get with my friends"...? Is that how it really works?) and nonsensical hooks ("zig a zig ahh" much?), this one is one for the ages, and no matter how embarrassing it is when it comes on the radio and you know all the words, you still can't help but sing along at the top of your lungs. That's the power of spice for you.

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