This is my humble plea to bring back some of my favorite pop divas…ladies who had their moment of pure pop brilliance and then disappeared as soon as they were either: A.) dropped by their record label, B.) Beckoned by Hollywood, C.) Succumbed to drugs & alcohol or D.) Some Combination of the above. Here it goes. Prepare to be dazzled!
1. Rachel Stevens: Formerly of S Club 7, Stevens has always been a favorite. Not known for her extensive vocal range, Stevens IS known for having one of 2005’s best reviewed, least listened to pop records. What a shame! The album spawned 2 top 10 hits (“So Good,” “Negotiate With Love”) yet that was not enough to keep the singer signed with Polydor Records. If only her label had considered her entire body of work including a total of 5 top 10 UK hits! Her videos and live performances were mini works of art…OK…overstatement…but they were loads of fun! What is Ms. Stevens up to now? Acting it seems. After bit parts in Suzie Gold, Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo and most recently, voicing a character in the animated BBC series, Glendogie Bogey–it seems like Rachel is giving singing a rest at the moment and focusing on acting. Pity. Fav Tracks: “Sweet Dreams My LA Ex,” “Some Girls,””Nothing Good About This Goodbye.”
2. Holly Valance: Australian pop singer, Holly Valance had a #1 single in both the UK & her native land–a cover of Tarkan’s “Kiss Kiss” (also covered by Stella Soliel) and while I liked Soliel’s version quite a bit more, Holly Valance was quite the performer. Nominated for 4 ARIA awards (Australian Grammys) for her song “Kiss Kiss”, Valance also had success with her follow up single, “Down Boy.” Third single “Naughty Girl” did well in Australia and made top 20 in the UK. Follow up album was a big flop and only had one single–title track “State Of Mind.” While offering nothing groundbreaking, Valance paired up with current producers could potentially turn out another hit. What’s keeping her busy now? Acting. Yep. Acting isn’t new for Valance–after all she appeared in the Australian soap that launched a thousand pop stars (Kylie, Natalie Imbruglia, Delta Goodrem, Stephanie McIntosh)–Neighbours. More recently, she’s had her eyes on American audiences, with guest spots on Shark, CSI: Miami, CSI: NY, Moonlight, Entourage & Prison Break. Valance has also been busy in movies–National Lampoon’s Pledge This, DOA: Dead or Alive and Taken. Hopefully she hasn’t COMPLETELY forgotten her music past. Fav Tracks: “Kiss Kiss,””Down Boy,””State Of Mind,””Hypnotic.”
3. Kym Marsh: Now I can’t honestly say that Kym Marsh was ever a FAVORITE pop star of mine. Her debut solo album Standing Tall, was one of my first import album’s purchased at record store in the states. That was very exciting to me at the time. It was before I discovered the websites I use now, so when I saw this $25.00 CD in the bin…I snagged it right up! I had heard her second single “Come On Over” on Now That’s What I Call Music Vol. 55 and LOVED it. Little did I know, that was the beginning of the end for Marsh. First single, “Cry” made it to #2 on the UK Charts–“Come On Over” – #10…third and final single “Sentimental” only made it to #35 and Kym was dropped. Kym got her start on the UK show Popstars, forming the group Hear’Say. Kym left the group after the first album. Marsh currently stars on popular UK soap Coronation Street, where she is known as Kym Ryder. Now a Mommy of 2, Kym is still riding the success of Coronation Street (for which she has won numerous British television awards). In 2004 & 2005 she’s had a successful West End run in Saturday Night Fever, where she received rave reviews. In 2006 she entered Making Your Mind Up–the UK contest that picks a singer and a song to represent the UK in Eurovision. She came in 4th. Come on Kym…reinvent your sound and come back for another round! Fav Tracks: “Come On Over,””Cry (Almighty Remix)”,”Cry.”
4. Emma Bunton: The first bit of former Spice Girl, Emma Bunton’s solo material I ever heard was her Tin Tin Out Collaboration–the cover of Edie Brickell’s “What I Am.” Back then I was in college (1999-2000) and I furiously sought out additional Emma tracks on Napster (before it went legit). “What Took You So Long,” & “Take My Breath Away” quickly became new favorites of mine. I actually found her debut album (A Girl Like Me) on Amazon Marketplace and ordered it used. I loved it, even without the jewel case! In 2004, when I learned that Emma’s long awaited follow up album was due to be released, I got excited. I of course heard “Free Me” and the subsequent remixes and fell in love. I bought the import instantly (and bought the US version that came out nearly a year later–unable to keep it from bombing on the US charts–). Emma’s second album was a far cry from her days in the Spice Girls…or even her first pop album. Going for a more 60s Soul/Motown sound, the album was surprisingly catchy. “Free Me” was a jam! While she never achieved another #1 (not since “What Took You So Long” in 2001), “Free Me” hit the top 5 in the UK. Second single, “Maybe” (with an amazing video) hit #6, “I’ll Be There”–#7. All signs pointed to a downward spiral. Sure enough…final single “Crickets Sing For Annamaria,” a cover of an Astrud Gilberto classic, only made it to #15.
By the time word of her third album started to materialize, my worst fears were confirmed–she was doing another 60s/Motown-inspired album. Life In Mono was a certifiable bomb (Of course I bought it). First single was a cover of Petula Clark’s “Downtown”– done for BBC’s Children In Need charity–capitalizing on Emma’s Strictly Come Dancing (British version of Dancing With The Stars) role. The music video even featured some cast-mates from the reality show. “Downtown” made it’s debut at #3 on the British Charts. Follow up single did not fare so well…treacly ballad, “All I Need To Know” stalled at #60. There was no third single due to Emma’s pregnancy and the inability to properly promote the record. As a result, the album stalled at #65. A bummer. I was hoping her cover of Mono’s “Life In Mono” would make it as a single, but it was never to be. Bunton, now a new Mommy of a baby boy, just finished touring with the Spice Girls for their much hyped reunion tour. For now, according to Emma on her blog, she’s “reading scripts.” It looks like, for the time being, she’s put music on hold. *sigh. And so it goes…another pop star gone by the wayside. The good news as far as Ms. Bunton is concerned…is, as of right now anyway, she’s still signed to her record label. So fingers crossed she makes good on that and records another album soon! Fav Tracks: “What Took You So Long,””A Girl Like Me,””We’re Not Going To Sleep Tonight (3AM Mix)”,”What I Am,””Free Me,””Maybe,””No Sign Of Life,””Something So Beautiful.”
5. Amy Winehouse: I don’t need to say anything at all about this one. Get better soon girl. That Bond song would have rocked with you on vocals. Fav Tracks: “You Sent Me Flying (Edit),””Stronger Than Me,””Fuck Me Pumps,””Help Yourself,””In My Bed,””Take The Box,””You Know I’m No Good,””Back To Black,””Tears Dry On Their Own,””Love Is A Losing Game,””Me & Mr. Jones,””Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” (cover from Bridget Jones: Edge Of Reason Soundtrack).