When I first saw this, I kept thinking – please don’t be a cover version. To my great delight, “Wishing On A Star” is a glorious pop dance record which melds the slow-to-fast transition (think Soul Solution and Hex Hector’s classic mix of Toni Braxton’s “Unbreak My Heart”) with modern stadium house and electro. It’s in the same vibe as David Guetta/Kelly Rowland “When Love Takes Over” and, more recently, Frenchie Davis “Love’s Got a Hold on Me.” Thankfully the extended mix has a full intro and the dropout to the slower part is accented with a steady beat, so there is no loss of energy (or dancers frantically looking for a beat for an extended time). For a more Avicii-esque take, check out the Odd remix. It’s great to see that the Romanians are discovering the beautiful vocal of Beverlei Brown, a brilliant blend of soothing beauty, balanced power, and a hint of unique quirkiness – like an updated mashup of Gabrielle and Michelle Gayle. If you like “Wishing on a Star,” go back and listen to her track with Adrian Sina “I Can’t Live Without You” and her lost ’90s house classic “On and On.”
There has been a noticeable lack of soulful vocals on recent big room/progressive/stadium house tracks. This is why recent releases featuring Max C, Peyton, Janice Robinson, and Frenchie Davis have really stood out due to the powerful and sometimes gospel feel to their vocal performances. Continuing this wonderful trend is “Something About You,” the new single by South American duo HIIO (pronounced H2O- like water) featuring the vocals of Terri B. The uplifting production sounds like Almighty channeling classic Perfecto while attempting a progressive pop track (i.e. stadium house that is commercial but not cheesy). Terri B sounds incredible, possessing a voice that can be both soft, pretty europop and screaming gospel diva. What also stands out is the admirable vocal production, not for changing the sound of her voice, but obviously working with Terri to control the power and use it for emphasis in chorus and not oversing the whole record. For a frame of reference, take a listen to two songs from another “b-girl,” Sandy B, with the classic and pristinely-produced “Make the World Go Round” and the horribly-engineered mess “Everlasting Love” (with Jackie Christie). Listening to those back-to-back illustrate the importance of good vocal production and why “Something About You” will sound just as great on a club floor as it will on the radio or your iPod. DJs who find the original version to be too commercial-sounding should reach for the harder, electro/progressive remixes by DONS and Peter Gelderblom – two solid producers who just don’t seem to get the recognition for the great work they do. Listening to this track makes me want to know more about HIIO and track down their upcoming releases as they drop. After listening, I think you might agree.
In this current era of DJs as artists, the question I keep getting is ‘where are the divas?’ You know, the big-voiced female singers who have been belting out dance anthems since the disco era? After a stint on The Voice, where she managed to make “When Love Takes Over” her own song, Frenchie Davis is ready to take over clubland with “Love’s Got a Hold On Me.” The uplifting lyrics about the power of love are universal – everyone can relate to it. Frenchie’s flexibility as a vocalist is showcased by contrasting the softer, pretty pop delivery of the verses with the powerful-yet-controlled chorus. The bridge after the second chorus is even sung in a staccato style similar to Destiny’s Child “Say My Name” for great emphasis. As an instrumental, the track would be strong enough for commercial big rooms that play the Avicii/Swedish House Mafia style that is in vogue right now. The focus on a strong vocalist and a real, pop-friendly song make it stand out above everything else out there. DJs don’t need to wait for a remix, the original version works perfectly.