PROFESSIONAL DEMO REVIEW - Sep 19, 2005
- “In her case the visual presentation is what can decide whether she gets signed or not.”
Three unsigned HitQuarters Artists Of The Week have been reviewed by three successful music industry professionals.
You can read reviews of their vocals, production, composition, visual presentation and overall potential to get a record deal and achieve chart success, as well as advice on how to approach the music industry and improve their tracks.
The three artists are:
Melange Edinburgh – USA – Hip hop
Melange Edinburgh from California is 18 years of age and majoring in Graphic Design and Physiology. She is a cancer survivor and musically devoted to hip hop. Her songs are produced by Bobby King and she is available for record-, management- and publishing deals.
Listen to Melange Edinburgh – Keep My Name
Kareem – USA – R&B
Brooklyn based Kareem is only 16 years of age but already writing and producing his own songs and videos. He has sold over 10,000 CD’s out of the trunk of his dad’s car and is featured on WWRL 1600. He is available for record- and publishing deals.
Listen to Kareem – Against The Wall
Bristh – USA – R&B
18 year old Bristh from Memphis, Tennessee, is produced by Noc Blaxx and Ez Roc. She is available for record-, management- and publishing deals.
Listen to Bristh – Don Juan Thugs
The industry professionals doing the reviews are:
Andrew Lane – Producer/Songwriter – USA
Andrew Lane, a.k.a. “Drew”, has worked with some of the industry's superstars such as Dave Hollister, T-Boz, Backstreet Boys, Killer Mike, Trillville, YoungBloodz & Irene Cara and received gold and/or platinum sales for his work with Speech, Keith Sweat and Alsou.
Andrew, born in San Diego, has a long and celebrated history of achievement in music. At the age of 8 he began playing the flute and later drums and bass, practicing diligently and developing a sincere affection for music. He grew up in Compton and Long Beach CA under the guidance of R&B, hip hop and jazz.
In 1995 he formed Drew Right Music, Inc. in Atlanta. In the fall of 1998 he received the Producing/Songwriting credit for three songs on Keith Sweat's album “Didn’t See Me Coming”.
In December of 1998, Andrew introduced his talents to Nashville writers to produce and convert country written songs to pop R&B, which resulted in millions of records sold by Backstreet Boys. Over the course of the next three years, Andrew would emerge as one of the industry's rising talents by producing/songwriting projects for the Universal, Elektra and EMI labels, including artists such as Carl Thomas, Jamelia and more.
Anyone who has worked with Andrew Lane knows that he is a tireless workaholic who demands perfection in his music. In 2000 Andrew Lane‘s song “Solo”, performed by Russian pop princess Alsou and released on Universal Music Russia, was one of Russia’s highest ever selling singles.
Alsou came 2nd with "Solo" in The Eurovision Song Contest 2000, viewed by 200 million viewers. Her debut English album (featuring "Solo") was released in 2001 in Russia where it topped the charts for several weeks.
Andrew is currently working with Bad Boy Entertainment’s latest group - B 5.
Prince Valium – Producer/Remixer – Denmark
Prinz Valium is remixer for Jay Z, Lil’Kim, The Roots and more. He started banging the drums when he was 8, but became more and more interested in sequencing and recording as he grew older. This interest brought him to the Royal Danish Conservatory, where he is studying to become a Tonmeister, involving the recording & production of mainly classical music.
As a producer he has a soft spot for – “female rap and hip hop lyrics with a message, rather than the idiotic never ending line of boringly-produced "Bling Bling" tracks that seem to have invaded the entire planet.”
As a drummer, he is still active on the Danish avantgarde scene, as with his "symphonic pop hop" band Perfect (www.whoisperfect.dk), which features Mis Marie and the synth/indie/rock band "Moi Caprice" (www.moicaprice.com). For more information – visit www.prinzvalium.info
Yann Rouiller – Producer/Songwriter – Switzerland
Yann Rouiller is a producer at Strong Reaction Music, an international artist development company based in Maur, Switzerland. SRM write and produce for established artists as well as promoting exciting new talents, singers, bands and songwriters, using their experience in contemporary music production and career management as well as their international network within the entertainment industry.
Their work includes a wide array of artists in a variety of styles from urban to pop to alternative. Credits include works with Katia Cadet, Nubya, Manana, Robbie Buchanan, Dean Parks, Armand Volker and many more, as well as some No.1 hits for Lasso, Baschi and Musicstar.
SRM is now one of the busiest production teams in Switzerland and operates out of a full featured residential studio that has housed the likes of Fugees, Lenny Kravitz, Keane and Backstreet Boys.
SRM is now looking for new talents as well as partners to team up on songwriting and production. For more information - visit www.strongreactionmusic.com
Reviews on Melange Edinburgh:
Yann Rouiller: Melange brings a lot of personality as well as good skill and fresh musical textures. The production is well rounded up and somehow exciting. The vocal performance is strong and fresh. She comes across from the first notes on. The vocals stand out and she has a presence which drives one to listen to the music closely. There is not much to mention here that is not state of the art. You can hear that there is serious musicianship behind it.
On the production side, I like the eclectic content of the beat and background vocals. It's living. It stays entertaining all the way. In this kind of style the kick and bass could be hitting harder. There is a lot going on in the mid range and high range so compared to those beats where there is almost nothing else but drums, it can get a bit busy. Otherwise I like it a lot. It has a vibe and a sound to it that is somehow uniquely its own.
It is more a matter of how likeable the song and the lyrical content is. This song is good for getting attention, but I'm not sure it is a hit as such. To me, the hook doesn't seem to be the most exciting part of the song. Being able to show 3 to 4 tracks of "hit" song material to A&Rs will define the project’s degree of maturity.
In her case the visual presentation as well as her charisma as an artist/person is what can decide whether she gets signed or not. I think it would be important to help an A&R to get a clear idea of where it might go visually as well as sound-wise. I believe they have the stuff to be heard and get signed if they get that hit song.
Andrew Lane: First of all, many props to Melange for being a cancer survivor, and for her accomplishment in school. I feel she has a lot of potential, her lyrics are clean but edgy and there is a spot open for a female rapper out there. To get the labels interested in her image is important, and if I had to go by the picture on this article, it would be a turn off, so take some great industry standard pics.
Next, the track needs to be stronger: I hear no kick, no definition, so get a stronger production. And with regards to the vocals, put a little more personality into them. You are almost there. You’re an inspiration to all of us.
Prince Valium: I love the Latino feeling to Melange Edinburgh's "Keep My Name." It reminds me of one of my favorite Lil'Kim tracks - "No Matter What They Say", and the chorus is very Eminem-ish. But despite the obvious references to well-known artists this girl seems to be very much her own. The production of this song is creative and energetic, with a powerful vocal to match, and lyrics worth listening to.
This girl has got attitude and personality - she's like a female version of Jay Z - but again I won't be too quick to make comparisons since Melange Edinburgh seems capable of doing things her own way. I do have to point out a few weaknesses in the production though: the brass parts are really bad and should be played for real instead of the awful sounding programming, and the pitch instrumental parts are a mess and should be deleted or not pitched at all.
Unfortunately I found very limited visual material. This is a real shame because I would definitely like to see more of this young lady.
Reviews on Kareem:
Yann Rouiller: What struck me at first was how as a listener you get caught up in his thing right from the beginning. Kareem and his music show personality straight away. The mood is smooth and the hooks stay stuck in your head. You catch yourself singing it in the kitchen (that's what happened for real…). His songwriting also shows maturity.
As an artist, writer, producer you have great control over what you're trying to say and express in your music. But there is also A LOT of work coming upon you, which makes it harder to get everything right yourself. At this point, this track is a good songwriting demo that shows a clear potential but there is still hard work to do.
Vocally the performance is emotional and brings the song through but his skills are not flawlessly caught on drive. It is a painstaking process to work perfect vocals out, but it is a very rewarding one for the artist and the song. There is work to do but I'm sure that he can do it without problems with someone taking care of the coaching. There are a lot of vocal arranging ideas that are good and just need to be performed and placed properly in the mix.
On the beat side, the groove ideas as well as the melodies are very song-supportive, which is great, but the sound design is not happening - it doesn't sound new or state of the art. He should try to use fresher sounds. It is clearly a production issue that can be fixed.
All in all, Kareem has real potential. The fact that he is (almost) self-contained will make his path a lot easier. He should team up with some good producers, not necessarily beatmakers, but people who get the whole picture of "producing" and will help him to catch the last bits of his talent and finalize some hit tracks. Looking for a publisher could be a good thing as he could write also for other artists.
Andrew Lane: I applaud anyone that can sell 10,000 units out of the trunk of a car. It takes hustle to make it in this music game. Though, quite frankly, I don't see any hit potential in Kareem because there's no identity - is he a rapper or is he a singer? Very few artists can pull this off well (Missy Elliot, Lauryn Hill).
Secondly, the song has no definite structure - it seems like a long verse with a rap in it.
Thirdly, there’s no attitude in the vocals. Look at the competition - Usher, Omarion, Mario, John Legend… Ask yourself - how does my image and songs stand up to those artists? To get a label to look at him seriously, I would say: learn how to structure a song and have the track banging and you will have a chance.
Prince Valium: Kareem has a great voice; distinct and seductive. Matched with the self-confident image he displays on his web-site, it's not hard to imagine that he could have a bright career ahead of him. The talent is clearly there, but I have to say that the production of “Against The Wall” fails to impress me. The song is just too stereotypical of its genre to make it interesting, and it's a major drawback that the production, in my opinion, doesn't complement the vocal performance.
I am looking for a more professional production of the song, one which dares to take a few risks and uses a little more imagination. That might help set this artist off on the right track.
Reviews on Bristh:
Yann Rouiller: Good start, you get the beat theme right in your face and it commands attention. Composition wise, I like the flow of the track. It stays interesting throughout the song, and the hook is catchy too. This track probably works great in clubs.
The vocal performance is OK but doesn't blow me away. She has a nice voice and timbre but she could probably give more intensity in her performance and let herself go a bit more. It sounds a bit tired to me. She could bring it "real soft" OR "real strong" depending on her own character, but she has to go to extremes for everybody to get into it. This is what makes the artist unique to the audience and this would bring a whole new dimension to the track.
She'll also need a strong charisma as a person to motivate people around her to help her happen. That’s 50% of the job. Talent is just the beginning. Unfortunately, we can't judge this here. A short interview on Mpeg could make a big difference.
The production is well done, the beats are banging and the mix is cool. Again, some sounds could be a bit edgier, and fresher, to make it more unique. Almost all big hits have something that makes them stand out, that little thing which makes an emotional difference for the listener and triggers their interest.
All in all, this track shows solid work. Try to improve the performance and polish it a bit further. A project should be able to showcase 3 to 4 "hit" tracks to an A&R so it has consistency. This will help executives to get an overview of its true potential quickly.
Andrew Lane: Bristh has a lot of potential. To me the vocals are good but very safe. The question when it comes to breaking out on the scene is: what makes me stand out as different? What’s the identity? My look? My Voice? My Tracks? The song is a good song using the hook from the Miami Sound Machine.
Bristh might get signed because she has a sound for today. On the other hand, timing is everything; will the style and sound still be current six to eight months from now? In addition labels would want to see her showcase - how is her live show? Does she lip sync? Just a little food for thought… On a scale of 1 to 10 on getting a record deal I would give her a 7.
Prince Valium: Without a doubt Bristh has the voice and the looks to become a star, but I'm still looking for something that will make this girl stand out from the crowd. "Don Juan Thugs" is a well produced song with a Destiny's Child twist to it. It has a good feel and flow, but it's just a little too straight for me - there are no surprises here to convince me that this song could have hit potential.
I also think the rap and male vocals need some serious working on – they simply aren't good enough: the male vocals seem misplaced and the rap is totally unconvincing. On a final note, I'll take this opportunity to mention that I would love to work/produce for any of these young talents.
Demos on review are chosen from the ones uploaded to the A&R Panel. To upload your songs, click here.
If you are a music industry professional that would like to participate in the demo reviews, please send us a message.
Previous Demo Reviews:
Professional Demo Review - Aug 8, 2005
Artists: Anne Judith (Pop/Norway) – Mooli (Pop/UK) – TonDalaya (R&B/USA)
Reviewers: Michael Puskas (A&R/Australia) – Robert Uhlmann (Producer/Sweden) – O-Jay (Producer/Germany)
- “The track has a great commercial hook that drives it straight to the radio.”
- “This song came across as a cliché on top of a cliché.”
- “I love this track - the lo-fi drums, nice string arrangements and bubbling sounds give it a very nice atmosphere.”
Professional Demo Review – Jul 4, 2005
Artists: Exkzile (Rap/USA) – Hazel (Rap/USA) – T.U. Savant (Rap/USA)
Reviewers: Steve “Blast” Wills (Producer/USA) – Gabo (TV proeducer/USA) – Mughal (Producer/Canada)
- “She has good potential to be signed by a record label!”
- “He needs a photographer to frame him for industry appreciation.”
- “Please quit while you’re ahead. This ain’t going anywhere!”
Professional Demo Review – Apr 18, 2005
Artists: Mis Marie (Rap/Denmark) – Vladimir Vasileski Cetkar (Pop/USA) – Penny Foster (Pop/UK)
Reviewers: Lotte Aagaard (Publisher/Denmark) – Leo Chantzaras (Producer/Germany) – Robert Waterman (A&R/UK)
- “A very catchy song with potential! I like it!”
- “He is a good singer but should try losing the accent.”
- “I would suggest she looked closely at herself and ask, ‘why me? What's special about me?”
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