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- “There are spots where I can hear the auto-tune correcting certain notes and that does detract from the song as the auto-tune was not being used for creative purposes. “

- “Her classical/pop singing style sets her apart from the rest, but she needs to find a better way to make that work for her.”

- “I would look into signing an artist like this.”

picture The latest POP selection for the Professional Demo Review takes some left-field diversions this time around. On hand to assess whether cuts by Tasha Marilia, Labyrinthe and Sister Ray manage to successfully navigate the treacherous fine line between alternative and chart promise are producer Eddie Galan, A&R and manager Antony Meola, and the ‘Clive Davis of Holland’, John van Katwijk.

In reaching their conclusions the reviewers consider factors such as vocals, production, composition and visual presentation, while also providing tips on improving the tracks, and evaluating their overall potential to get a record deal and achieve chart success.

So will Tasha Marilia’s dewy tones, Labyrinthe’s dazzling vocal eccentricities or Sister Ray’s back alley carnival call find favour or foul with our expert judges?

The Artists

HitQuarters ArtistTasha Marilia

Although normally London-based, 22-year-old singer Tasha Marilia has recently been spending a lot of time out in LA at its Atomic Studios, where she's been working with Genuine - who represents producers with credits including Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, and Brandy – in the production and video of her Demo Review entry 'Lotta Love'.

Of African and Portuguese descent, the singer has lived and worked in London since the age of 12. Having studied media and music at university she knows a thing or two about the industries that go hand in hand to make or break an artist's profile. What's more she is not a stranger to hard work, and is now on the hunt for some serious hits. Meanwhile she is also available for record, management and publishing deals.

Tasha Marilia MySpace

HitQuarters ArtistLabyrinthe

When Laura Elvin was 14 she was told by the Sugarbabes management to, "Never be in a group!" And once you hear her unique voice you can hear why - there is no place for her other than centre stage.

She has since worked with Alex Goldings (Lulu, MS Dynamite) and Redeye Productions (Mutya, Blazing Squad). Although Elvin’s musical training is rooted in classical, having studied the piano, the violin and the guitar for many years, her heart has always and will always belong to pop. She is available for record, management and publishing deals.

Labyrinthe MySpace

HitQuarters ArtistSister Ray

Described as a "fairground fantasy in the middle of a Latino funeral march", London-based Sister Ray is an original and inventive young band fronted by the quirky vocals of singer/songwriter Genna Marabese. Heavily influenced by David Bowie, Lou Reed and Tom Waits, the band has a retro London cockney feel, and deliver a raw disjointed smoky cigarette tale. The band is available for record, management and publishing deals.

Sister Ray MySpace

The Industry Professional Review Panel

Eddie ‘G’ Galan – USA – Songwriting and Production

Eddie Galan is a 4-time Billboard #1 songwriter and record producer whose albums have gone on to sell over 17 million units worldwide. In 2006, he took home the Billboard Soundtrack of the Year award, and was also nominated for Album of the Year at both the Billboard and American Music Awards. Fast forward to 2008/2009, when Eddie co-wrote and produced one of the theme songs for the Bejing Olympics – ‘Incredible’ recorded by the Clique Girlz.

Most recently, Galan has been working on music by Mitchel Musso (Walt Disney Records), Allstar Weekend (Hollywood Records), Tiffany Thornton (Walt Disney), the Backstreet Boys, Ryan Cabrera, School Boy Humor (Vagrant Records) and many others.

Eddie Galan MySpace

John van Katwijk - Netherlands – A&R, Production and Songwriting

Often called the 'Clive Davis' of Holland, John van Katwijk is a multi-platinum songwriter/producer who, in his own country, is responsible for a chain of hit acts and more than 60 Top 40 hits. He has also worked in Los Angeles and New York where he collaborated with his heroes David Foster and Diane Warren. Van Katwijk has appeared on the jury of Dutch TV show 'Popstars', a show similar to American Idol. His favourite slogan is “having a great career is a matter of having great songs”.

Antony Meola – UK – A&R and Management

Antony Meola has been working in A&R at the Upper 11 Group since 2007. The current roster includes Ida Maria (Mercury Records – UK Top 20), Ken Lewis - whose achievements include 6 Grammys, 48 gold and platinum albums and singles, 28 #1 albums and singles - Eli Paperboy Reed (Capitol/Parlophone), Smalltown Sleeper (Upper 11/Fontana) and Brandyn Burnette. Meola also manages rock band The Dandies.

* * *

Song 1:
Tasha Marilla – Lotta Love

Eddie Galan – 7

“Tasha's vocals sound very crisp and clean, and well recorded. Overall the track is well produced and I'm impressed with the quality. However, there are spots where I can clearly hear the auto-tune pitch correcting certain notes and that does detract from the song somewhat, as the auto-tune was not being used for creative purposes.

The song, although catchy, is more of an AC type record. I would be intrigued to hear what her target fan base was. Most of the pop records these days are heading more towards a dance sound, especially on radio.”

John van Katwijk – 7

“Well, it certainly all seems to be there for Tasha - the voice, the looks, the polished production, the video etc. - but then again she's in what is a very competitive field of music. There are a lot of pretty ladies out there do this kind of style similarly well.

'Lotta Love' is a well-produced and well-sung track, however, it is not something that blows you away and so perhaps it is just good album material. She needs something a little edgier to stand out from the rest.

As ever, it all comes down to that 'killer' single track but I am sure that when she finds that outstanding song, it could happen to her in a heartbeat. She has the package to make it!”

Antony Meola – 8

“This is a great track. It has a good catchy chorus, and the vocals are perfect. Whoever the producer is has done a great job, and maybe sticking with the same producer for this whole album would do her good in helping to capture that exact sound Tasha wants to create.

I can easily see this track appearing on the UK radio and TV scene. However, one word of caution about her appearance, I would say she needs to have a specific look and a brand to go with the name.”

Song 2:
Labyrinthe – Jigsaw

Eddie Galan - 3

“Labyrinthe's vocals are just too out there for my liking. They’re also too high pitched and even out of tune in spots too.

The track itself is not well produced. It’s outdated, particularly in the drum sounds and patterns, and overall the song seems rather sloppily thrown together. The lyrics do not stand out, while the melody runs on and on and doesn’t build and keep you interested. The chorus is not strong enough, and really should be simplified to really make it catchy and pop.

Overall, I'm disappointed with this presentation and would prefer to see where this artist can take her voice on a lower scale, specifically to start the songs she sings ...”

John van Katwijk - 6

“And now for something completely different … This beautiful lady has a very interesting voice and singing style, which could be labelled as alternative, as in that it’s not immediately suitable for a commercial market. And with this song there’s just no way it’s going to happen for her.

Her classical/pop singing style sets her apart from the rest, but she needs to find a better way to make that work for her. If she tried a song in the style of something like Sinead 'O Connor's 'Nothing Compares To You', for example, then she could have a breakthrough. It’ll be interesting to see what steps she takes next.“

Antony Meola - 2

“Musically the song starts off well, however there is no defined hook and the vocal line should be re-worked. What’s more the production is not that great.

I am finding it hard to place her in a market. She certainly has a good vocal range and so perhaps should look into working with other producers and if she’s looking for a hit then possibly head towards writing and singing more commercial pop records.”

Song 3:
Sister Ray – Splinter In My Eye

Eddie Galan - 8.5

“Although it’s out there and a bit off the wall, I do like this. The track is well produced, and pushes the creative envelope while at the same time making you bop your head. It’s unique, making you listen and then keeping your attention.

Although the vocals are well produced, I would like to hear the vocals a little higher in the mix. Also some more harmonies and backing parts would have been nice to set it over the top but the artist clearly goes for the bulls eye and hits it dead on. The whistling is also an excellent touch - it gets stuck in your head! I would look into signing an artist like this ... Great work.”

John van Katwijk – 7

“This band, fronted by singer-songwriter Genna, are strongly influenced by the past. Although they would clearly prefer to be categorised alongside David Bowie and Lou Reed, I would say a comparison with Blondie would be much more apt.

I’m sure this is a band you need to see live to really appreciate to the fullest. Nevertheless, they do make some funny tunes and if this song acquired a strong radio support then this could easily be a hit along the quirkier lines of someone like Lily Allen.

Antony Meola - 4

“The band need a new producer if they want to create a hit – the production is not particularly great on this track. The vocals need some attention, for one. However, there is something fun about this band and with the right person this could be brought out much better.

In terms of marketability and image, the band also needs a good strong brand to project out to the audience. Lots of fun gimmicks on stage wouldn’t go amiss.”

Remember, demos on review are chosen from the ones uploaded to the A&R Panel. To get your music assessed by our expert panel upload your tracks here.

Alternatively, if you are a music industry professional who would like to join the panel for future demo reviews then please contact us here.

Next week: Beatmaster Focus ... talks about involvement with eagerly anticipated albums by Christina Aguillera and Dr Dre

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