Monday, September 15, 2008

(Il)legally Blonde? Eurodance act JK!

Greetings my frothy peeps! I haven't written much since spending the summer fighting off a bad throat infection which, funnily enough, began right after Gay Pride in Toronto. Now I've got a clean bill of health, but a root canal coming up for me is not such a frothy pop treat. But there's been an entry I've wanted to write for a long while, and it will be the first of a few blog entries about Eurodance "frauds". The music groups that churn out deliciously disposable dance music who have a team of producers and vocalists who create the hits that more glamourous "models" lipsynch to. This practise seems to be totally frowned upon in North America (especially after the Milli Vanilli scandal), but in Europe it seems to be pretty common. (One thing I learned from Eurodance forums awhile back is that a front person of a given act is most likely the real vocalist if they write the lyrics to the songs they perform.)

So with all that build up, I bring you JK! Her name may as well be short for "joke" since the producers couldn't even maintain the same vocalist for all her lipsynching duties. Imagine getting the blondest, whitest woman around (model Marta Simlat) and then giving her progressively more "black" sounding voices to lipsynch to (including - but not limited to - Jenny Bersola and Sandy Chambers). You have to see the way it plays out in her videos. The first voice assigned to JK belongs to Jenny Bersola (known more commonly as just Jenny B.) Jenny sang about 3 of JK's songs before they switched to another singer. The most famous is probably "You And I" featured below:

The high concept video involves model Marta flailing around in a dirty, empty swimming pool. Watch the over emotion in her lipsynch at the 0:20 sec mark, and watch as vacant male models eventually pace around her, completely bored as she flaunts her legs, loses her high heels, and pouts. Things get even weirder when Marta's dogs show up in the middle of the vid, and there's no place more perfect to take them for a walk than the dirty, empty swimming pool. One thing I'll give Marta - she's really good at flipping her hair. Eat your heart out Blair Warner! (I think I was done with the idea of Marta "singing" when I saw her lipsynch this on Canadian dance show Electric Circus, and then she brought out a translator for her interview with host Monica Deol afterwards!)

For perspective, here's a video featuring true vocalist Jenny Bersola totally ROCKING out on a live cover of "Knock On Wood" for an Italian TV show:

Now, what puzzles me is that Jenny B is an attractive woman. So why go out of your way to use a model like JK to lipsynch to her vocals, when Jenny herself could be the whole package? I suppose to Eurodance producers, a woman who has real curves and looks a bit like America Ferrara or Jordin Sparks is not as "attractive" to an audience as a blonde mannequin. I think that if Jenny B had been properly credited on the many songs she's been featured on, she could have been a huge star. (Her vocals are featured on dance classics such as Corona's "The Rhythm Of The Night", Playahitty's "Summer Is Magic" and many more.) But then again, maybe not. Think of this - if a record company can create multiple hits by having several "new" artists coming out with popular songs created by a house team of writers-producers-vocalists, then their star talent doesn't waste time getting caught in the trappings of fame. They get their cut out of songwriting cheques, session singing fees, or any number of roles behind the scenes that allow the machine to be well oiled and keep chugging along. If an act loses popularity, they can create a brand new one to replace it - which is almost cynical, but symbolic of the disposability of the product being packaged. Imagine if Jenny B had been allowed to be the face of her own hits. After a smash single like "Rhythm Of The Night" would critics see her follow up songs as disappointments? (See the above JK song, the chorus is almost a direct steal from "Rhythm Of The Night".) Especially in North America, dance acts are often seen as one hit wonders regardless of their output or talent. So if the house team works to create buzz for several different "artists", it allows the team to continue putting out hits, which allows for greater success all around. It's just a shame that sometimes it takes something as obviously vapid as a "pretty" model to sell you different songs from the same production team.

But with my mini-rant fini, we're on to more JK gems! Our next video treat features the vocals of Sandy Chambers (mostly heard on Corona productions, and later on various Benassi Bros. songs.) Here comes "My Radio" as Marta lipsynchs on and on forever:

Now she looks like Christina Applegate....playing a flight attendant....with a blowing scarf. Hmmmm.....I guess the main thing to watch is how much the voice starts disconnecting with her looks at this point. The first could maybe get away with. This one? I actually said to a friend "This sounds like Corona," when the song first came out.

Then we reach her third video with yet another vocalist! This one is called "Sweet Lady Night" and I can't even tell who really sings this one:

I at least give Marta props for upping the Diva ante in this one. Nice Diva poses, and get a load of her vamping it up as a sexy spider! Either she's getting more comfortable in her modelling, or the stylist was very gifted. Yet look at how the voice drifts even further away from any credibility it had being attached to Marta.

Three videos, three voices, and one lipsynching model! Like sands through the hourglass, these are the days of our Frothy Pop Treats!