Nikki & Rich Want To Be The 'Next Best Thing'

Updates have been a little sparse, but that is due to complications at the day job and my currently on-going search for a new apartment. Please continue to bear with me -- things will be back to normal soon. 

With that said, be sure to keep an eye on my Twitter, @melismaticdiva, for regular updates on what's going on with me, what I'm listening to, etc. If you caught me last night, you would have seen I was lucky enough to attend the Steve Madden Music Artist Spotlight Party, featuring new Reprise Records recording artists Nikki & Rich (given the fact that the title of their debut single is "Next Best Thing", blog headlines kind of write themselves, now don't they?). I was somewhat familiar with the soul-influenced duo thanks to some of my blogroll friends, but after last night, I couldn't be more upset that I didn't look into them sooner. 

(Nikki, vocals, and Rich, keys, at the Steve Madden Artist Spotlight Showcase Show on June 29th, 2010. Photo taken by Melismatic.)

The Showcase party was held in a penthouse apartment with a river-view on Manhattan's West Side, near the Village. After enjoying (free!) cocktails on the rooftop terrace (and getting my hair sufficiently tousled beyond any recognition -- curly hair is definitely a burden when the wind blows and the New York sun burns), my Plus One and I headed inside the fairly bare multi-level penthouse toward the small stage. Nikki & Rich took the stage right around 8:30PM. Their performance stage was in the corner of the penthouse, with a set of windows both behind them and to the side. The sun was just starting to set at the beginning of their six-song set, providing a truly beautiful sight that really complimented their cool sound. Solidifying their importance, Steve Madden himself was at the party (We saw him and grinned like idiots. We're still hoping he didn't see us.), and Nikki professed that her first pair of heels were Maddens.

Due to everyone being in such small quarters, I was literally less than five feet away from Nikki Leonti herself, and I cannot even begin to explain to you how chill-inducing her voice is in person. Her soulful tone will certainly gain comparisons to Amy Winehouse, Duffy and Adele (insert "soulful" tone pop songer here: Gabrielle Cilmi, Pixie Lott, Mutya Buena, Joss Stone, etc.) who have recently come before her, but the group's (her partner, Rich Skillz, plays keyboard and composes much of the songs) overall sound remains truly refreshing. There is nothing dated or purposely vintage sounding to be found here. Nikki & Rich came across as a sweet breath of fresh air in a music marketplace filled with synthy, vocoded call and response party songs (and I'll be the first to admit I'm a fan of those kind of songs, too). They describe themselves as "Lauryn Hill meets The Supremes while hanging out with Alicia Keys, listening to Outkast's "Hey Yah"", which I somewhat agree with in terms of their clear throwback influences, but they certainly have a new age appeal that sets them apart starkly in terms of what is currently popular on the Hot 100.

Nikki was certainly a force to be reckoned with on stage, and it became clear very quickly that she is a star in the making. Wearing a simple black romper with blousy sleeves, and a long gold chain necklace (featuring two large pendants -- one "N" and one "R"), her smile was definitely contagious. She and Rich both felt very unaffected, humble and green, but at the same time, knowledgeable and capable musicians. All of the songs were toe tappers and addictive after the first chorus (especially my favorite, "Yellow Brick Road", whose bridge literally gave me goose-bumps).

The first single, "Next Best Thing", is making the promo rounds now, in particular in the Hot AC radio markets. They recently performed the song on the Ellen DeGeneres show, and will be releasing their debut album, Everything, on August 17th. "Next Best Thing" is a great indicator of their sound, and after hearing their six-song set, I couldn't be more psyched for the full album. Keep these two on your radar -- Steve Madden Music is definitely a harbinger of big things, as proved by past Showcase Honorees in Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, VV Brown, Livvi Franc, Chester French and my beloved K'NAAN. Thank you to everyone involved for a great night, and a great introduction to a great artist.

I'm hardly a photographer -- the photos above were taken on my phone. For some fab shots, take a gander at Guest of A Guest's gallery. You might even seen a shot of yours truly. That's right, ya'll -- your girl's gon' public. (You can even buy that pic of me and my friend Janae -- I'm on the right -- for a small fee. For all you stalkers out there.)

Give the video for "Next Best Thing" a once over to determine if the sentiment holds true for you regarding Nikki & Rich. It certainly does for me. You can also follow Nikki & Rich on Twitter at @NikkiAndRich. "Next Best Thing" is also available for purchase right now on iTunes.

3 comments

Paul said...

don';t you hate when real life interferes with your other real life?! So irritating. Liking Nikki & Rich, think it's so important to have a great stage presence to back up your sound :)

John said...

Um, love. Thanks for shedding a light on these tow!

Mel said...

Paul - Werd on that RE: real life. So annoying. ;) Glad you dig Nikki & Rich!

John - Honestly, I was wondering your opinion on them since they seemed up your alley. :)

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