WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE NEXT BIG THING?

Checking in with three ’80s icons, many years later, we learn that careers rarely follow the expected trajectories—but they still turn out satisfyingly if one has the right attitude. On the BLURT analysis couch: Katrina Leskanich of Katrina & the Waves; Colin Hay, former frontman of Men At Work; and Irene Cara.

BY DAVE STEINFELD

Since the beginning of time – or at least the 1950’s – popular music has concerned itself with finding the Next Big Thing.  But the vast majority of music industry suits don’t care much about talent, or even about music.  They just care about money.  Who can we sign and market and sell to the greatest possible number of consumers?  This mentality has always existed but over the years, the amount of money that record companies (at least the majors) pour into new acts has grown.  At the same time, the median age of the consumer has decreased.  Kids listen to the radio, have disposable income and short attention spans.  So most record companies – hell, most businesspeople – target them first.

What all this adds up to is an industry that sinks lots of money into a never ending series of Next Big Things – only to chew them up, spit them out and forget them when it decides their moment has passed.  Sure, the ‘heritage’ artist – one who builds and sustains a career over time – still surfaces now and then (see Bruce Springsteen, among others).  But for the most part, it’s about instant gratification.  Sign an artist, promote the hell out of their album (and video), make ungodly amounts of money off them and then – in most cases – drop them when their sales start to decline or when the Next Bigger Thing comes along.

Which raises the question: what happens to the people who were once pop music’s Next Big Thing?  That varies.  But it’s not always what you think.

For this piece, originally written in 2005 (but unpublished until now), I sat down with three artists: Katrina Leskanich of Katrina & the Waves; Colin Hay, former frontman of Men At Work; and Irene Cara.  Back in the first half of the ‘80s, each did time as the Next Big Thing, cutting a prolific presence on the radio and MTV.  Now, more than 30 years later, all three are still making music but only one has a record deal – and with an independent label at that.  You won’t see any of these three on TV anymore, unless maybe you’re watching VH1 Classic.  Two of these artists – ironically, the two who used to front bands – are now solo acts, while the one former solo artist of the three is now fronting a band.  None of the three can get their new music played on the radio.  And all of them are making some of the best music of their careers.

Finding the Sunshine

Katrina Leskanich is best known as the frontwoman of Katrina & the Waves.  The Anglo-American quartet hit the charts several times during the ‘80s, but their biggest hit remains their first: 1985’s “Walking on Sunshine.”  It still gets airplay and also pops up in films from time to time.  In 2004, it was even the theme song for John Kerry’s presidential campaign.

“[Kerry’s] people were talking to my people – which is me – about when he won,” Katrina told me at the time.  “I was gonna go to the party and do ‘Walking on Sunshine.’  I was delighted to potentially be involved in that.“ She pauses, reflecting on how the 2004 election turned out.  “Damn!”

Surprisingly, Katrina doesn’t see any royalties from “Walking on Sunshine.”  She may have sung it, but it was Kimberley Rew (the Waves’ guitarist) who wrote it.  “He gets a lot of royalties from ‘Walking on Sunshine,’ but I don’t see a penny,” says Katrina.  “ I make my own way in this world and it suits me just fine.

Be that as it may, London – where the Kansas born Katrina has been based for many years – is an expensive city.  While she hasn’t exactly been reduced to waiting tables, she has had to seek out other means of making a living at times.  For three years after the band split up, Katrina couldn’t perform under her own name because the Waves owned the legal rights to it.  During that time, she hosted a show on BBC Radio and also played the legendary songwriter Ellie Greenwich in the West End production of Leader of the Pack.

But Katrina has also released several solo albums over the years. To these ears, the best was Turn the Tide, which came out more than a decade ago now and h was available through her website, www.katrinasweb.com.  Sadly – and somewhat amazingly – she doesn’t have a deal with a label.  “For many years, I [banged] my head against the wall, trying to get a deal,” says Katrina.  “I sent out 250 CD’s… and heard back from precisely no one… So I took the bull by the horns and decided to form my own company, manufacture my own CD and deliver it to the people.  I lick the envelopes… and I’m a lot happier doing it this way because I’m in control.”

(Below: Katrina now)

Frankly, it’s difficult to understand why 250 companies passed on Katrina’s CD.  For one thing, she has name value, particularly in the UK.  But beyond that, Turn the Tide was an excellent album of mostly mid-tempo pop.  Katrina’s voice still sounds great and most of the songs are very good.  My personal favorite is “Hallowed Ground,” which wouldn’t sound out of place on AC or AAA stations.  There is also a nice cover of the Kirsty MacColl classic “They Don’t Know,” which Katrina does as a ballad.

Unfortunately, though, good music and name value don’t mean much in the music business – especially when you’re in your fifties.  Katy Perry’s voice can’t hold a candle to Katrina’s, but she is a lot younger and appeals to a money-spending demographic. (That said, Katrina continues to perform regularly, and is currently on tour as part of the Retrofutura tour that includes the English Beat, Modern English, Men Without Hats, Paul Young, and Howard Jones.)

After “Walking on Sunshine,” Katrina & the Waves dented the charts a few more times, with songs like “Do You Want Crying,” “Sun Street” and “That’s the Way.”  But they never had another smash, at least not in America.  “’Walking on Sunshine’ was a hard act to follow,” Katrina admits.  “The song became bigger than us.  There was a point where people would say, ‘Who are you?’ ‘I’m Katrina, from Katrina & the Waves.’ Question-mark face. Then [I’d say] ‘Walking on Sunshine.’ ‘Oh yeah! I love that song! Wasn’t that Martha & the Muffins?’ You know, they’re asking me!”

 

A Man At Work

Colin Hay (above, center), the former leader of Men At Work, tells a similar story.  The Men had several bona fide smashes, but none was bigger than “Down Under,” their catchy 1983 song about Australia.  But Hay – who not only sung “Down Under,” but cowrote it – once met a woman who refused to believe it was his song.  “I wrote that song – ‘Down Under!’” he insists.  To which the woman replies, “No you didn’t.  You don’t remind me at all of Sting.”  Ouch!

Another of Hay’s favorite anecdotes is about the couple who showed up at one of his solo performances expecting to hear “The Safety Dance.”  That song – by the Canadian combo Men Without Hats – had nothing to do with Hay’s band, but was popular during the same period.  The punchline in the story is that when the couple finds out it’s not a Men At Work song, the woman still asks Hay if he’ll sing it.  Such is the payback for having a hit during the MTV era.

Few people have experienced the highs and lows of the music business to the extent that Colin Hay has.  It’s one thing to have a hit or two early in your career and then fade.  But Men At Work’s debut album, Business as Usual, was anything but.  In America alone, it topped the charts for an astounding 15 weeks, produced two number-one hits (“Down Under” and “Who Can It Be Now”) and won Hay and company a Grammy for Best New Artist.  In 1983, Men At Work was arguably the biggest band in the world.

The music business can be a fickle place, though.  Men At Work avoided the sophomore slump with their second album, Cargo.  That album – while not quite as successful as Business as Usual – still sold very well and produced two top 10 hits.  But the band’s third effort, Two Hearts, was a disaster.  It produced no hits. The band had split into various factions and broke up shortly after its release.  By the late ‘80s, Colin Hay was playing solo – to audiences a fraction of the size of those he’d played to a few years earlier.

“I’ll give you kind of a scale of things,” Hay tells me.  “We culminated playing the Us Festival in California, to maybe 150,000 people.  And that was toward the end of 1983… In ’88, I was back in Melbourne playing to 40 [or] 50 people, solo.  People in Melbourne didn’t really care about Men At Work.  So if you wanna stay in the game, you do what you can.”

Unlike some artists who have hit the big time and then fallen, Hay has no problem talking about his past.  During live performances, as in interviews, he is very open about it – even self-deprecating at times.  Hay has even documented his extraordinary career in some of his songs.  One such track is “My Brilliant Feat,” from his 1998 solo effort, Transcendental Highway.  In that song, he writes:

“Is it a game of chance, or merely circumstances?
A jack to a king and back,
Then you have to pay to play.
The world, it won’t wait for you,
It’s got its own things to do.
The sun’s gonna rise and dry another night away…
Once upon a time, I could do no wrong.
Though the candle flickers, the flame is never gone…”

It bears mentioning that Hay’s lyrics have grown considerably deeper since the mid-‘80s.  Men At Work was a good band, but not an especially deep one; they were fun and catchy and made some great singles.  But Hay has truly evolved from being a pop star to being an artist – which, in a way, is an even more brilliant feat than having your debut album top the charts for 15 weeks.

Over the last decade and change, Hay has built his career back from the ground up. He releases albums roughly every other year (the latest is Fierce Mercy), tours frequently, and was fortunate enough to land one of his songs on the soundtrack to the hit movie Garden State back in the day.  “I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You” is a sparse, somber ballad that originally appeared on Hay’s Peaks and Valleys disc.  This time around, the song became something of a left-field hit and earned him more attention than he’d seen in years.  He is currently signed to the nifty, Nashville-based label Compass Records.

(Below: Colin Hay now)

“Maybe I won’t ever become as successful or as famous as I used to be,” he says in a tone that suggests he has made peace with this.  “But people come and they see [me perform] and it’s like they’re sharing something with you.  It doesn’t require any hype, any radio station pumping it.  It’s just simply you turn up and they turn up – and it works.  And it’s been a real life-saver for me all these years [given] the frustration of how labels operate – or how they don’t operate.  It’s even a compliment to call it an industry.  Because an industry would suggest that people actually know what they’re doing.” Over the years, Hay and I have shared stories about a former record industry suit who both of us worked with (and grew to dislike) separately.

His ambivalence toward labels was echoed by the other artists I spoke with.  One of the first things that Katrina told me was, “Here’s the thing about record labels: they are Kellogg’s and you are Cornflakes.  Warner Brothers, BMG, Capitol-EMI, all the majors – you are Cornflakes.  And when the brand doesn’t sell [anymore], they find another brand.”

 

Still Got the Feeling

The third artist I spoke with, Irene Cara, has also had an ambivalent relationship with record companies, to say the least.  A major force on the singles chart throughout the ‘80s, Cara’s hits included surging movie themes like “Fame” and “Flashdance…What a Feeling,” as well as the beautifully vulnerable ballad “Out Here on My Own” (also from Fame).  Her albums weren’t as successful as her singles, though, and by the end of the decade she too found herself without a record deal.  In 1993, Cara won a lawsuit against her former label, Nettwerk Records, for 1.5-million dollars in unpaid royalties.

Since then, Cara has emerged as the leader of Hot Caramel, a large, all-female band based in her adopted home state of Florida.  When I last spoke with her (roughly a decade ago now) Hot Caramel was putting the finishing touches on their first album which Cara hoped will be picked up by a label – a bit ironic, given her history. To the best of my knowledge, that album was released independently in 2011.

Of the three artists I spoke with, Cara is the least inclined to discuss (or perform songs from) her past.  Unlike Katrina, who has no qualms about singing “Walking on Sunshine” 30 years after the fact, or Colin Hay, who mixes old material with new at his shows, Cara prefers to focus on her current band and let go of the past.  She is especially adamant about not dwelling on Fame.  Even though that’s what ultimately made her a household name, she is rarely in touch with her former co-stars from the film and is tired of discussing it.  “People have to realize that you work on a project and then everybody goes their own way,” she explains.  “[Fame] was a moment in history that we all got together to be a part of – and that was it.  It’s not an ongoing part of our lives.”

That said, Cara also makes it clear that she is proud of that period of her career – not just musically, but in terms of its effect on the education system.  “I would love to do a tour that goes to all the performing arts schools across the country,” she says.  “’Fame had a lot to do with so many of them springing up – here and around the world.  That’s a great legacy.”

Cara is quick to distance the women in Hot Caramel from the current barrage of female pop-tarts and such.  And for good reason.  While the music business is quicker to spotlight women than it was 30 years ago, many of these women are not so much musicians as entertainers – and in some cases, they border on being strippers.

“[My music] is grown-up shit,” Cara states emphatically.  “We’re not really targeting the teen market – although I think we’ll appeal to the teen market as well… I think there’s room in music for another kind of image of women that hasn’t been readily promoted or readily seen – certainly not in pop-R&B.“  Interestingly, Cara is quick to give props to the Dixie Chicks.  “Country at least has some great songs and some great artists, who aren’t 11,” she says.  “[Artists] who can play and sing and actually write about something.  I would love for us to be the pop-R&B version of the Dixie Chicks.  That would be the highest compliment to us.”  Whether that happens, of course, remains to be seen.

(Below: Irene now)

***

I have to say again that I find it amazing that these three artists do not have major label record deals (although Hay has enjoyed a productive relationship with Compass, a respected mid-level indie). They are essentially being ignored by the same industry that once made stars of them.  It isn’t fair to relegate artists of their caliber to ‘where-are-they-now’ status when they still have a lot to say –and it’s equally unfair to their fans, who wonder what they are up to and who would likely enjoy their new music.  Nor does it bode well for the current crop of pop stars who dominate radio and MTV.  Look at it this way: if an Irene Cara or a Katrina Leskanich – both of whom can actually sing – can’t get a record deal, where do you think today’s Auto-Tuned singers like Katy Perry and Rihanna will be in 20 years?

© 2005/2017 by Dave Steinfeld, all rights reserved / contact: skinnythai@aol.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Checking in with three ’80s icons, many years later, we learn that careers rarely follow the expected trajectories—but they still turn out satisfyingly if one has the right attitude. On the BLURT analysis couch: Katrina Leskanich of Katrina & the Waves; Colin Hay, former frontman of Men At Work; and Irene Cara.

 

BY DAVE STEINFELD

Since the beginning of time – or at least the 1950’s – popular music has concerned itself with finding the Next Big Thing.  But the vast majority of music industry suits don’t care much about talent, or even about music.  They just care about money.  Who can we sign and market and sell to the greatest possible number of consumers?  This mentality has always existed but over the years, the amount of money that record companies (at least the majors) pour into new acts has grown.  At the same time, the median age of the consumer has decreased.  Kids listen to the radio, have disposable income and short attention spans.  So most record companies – hell, most businesspeople – target them first.

What all this adds up to is an industry that sinks lots of money into a never ending series of Next Big Things – only to chew them up, spit them out and forget them when it decides their moment has passed.  Sure, the ‘heritage’ artist – one who builds and sustains a career over time – still surfaces now and then (see Bruce Springsteen, among others).  But for the most part, it’s about instant gratification.  Sign an artist, promote the hell out of their album (and video), make ungodly amounts of money off them and then – in most cases – drop them when their sales start to decline or when the Next Bigger Thing comes along.

Which raises the question: what happens to the people who were once pop music’s Next Big Thing?  That varies.  But it’s not always what you think.

For this piece, originally written in 2005 (but unpublished until now), I sat down with three artists: Katrina Leskanich of Katrina & the Waves; Colin Hay, former frontman of Men At Work; and Irene Cara.  Back in the first half of the ‘80s, each did time as the Next Big Thing, cutting a prolific presence on the radio and MTV.  Now, more than 30 years later, all three are still making music but only one has a record deal – and with an independent label at that.  You won’t see any of these three on TV anymore, unless maybe you’re watching VH1 Classic.  Two of these artists – ironically, the two who used to front bands – are now solo acts, while the one former solo artist of the three is now fronting a band.  None of the three can get their new music played on the radio.  And all of them are making some of the best music of their careers.

Finding the Sunshine

 

 

Katrina Leskanich is best known as the frontwoman of Katrina & the Waves.  The Anglo-American quartet hit the charts several times during the ‘80s, but their biggest hit remains their first: 1985’s “Walking on Sunshine.”  It still gets airplay and also pops up in films from time to time.  In 2004, it was even the theme song for John Kerry’s presidential campaign.

“[Kerry’s] people were talking to my people – which is me – about when he won,” Katrina told me at the time.  “I was gonna go to the party and do ‘Walking on Sunshine.’  I was delighted to potentially be involved in that.“ She pauses, reflecting on how the 2004 election turned out.  “Damn!”

Surprisingly, Katrina doesn’t see any royalties from “Walking on Sunshine.”  She may have sung it, but it was Kimberley Rew (the Waves’ guitarist) who wrote it.  “He gets a lot of royalties from ‘Walking on Sunshine,’ but I don’t see a penny,” says Katrina.  “ I make my own way in this world and it suits me just fine.”

Be that as it may, London – where the Kansas born Katrina has been based for many years – is an expensive city.  While she hasn’t exactly been reduced to waiting tables, she has had to seek out other means of making a living at times.  For three years after the band split up, Katrina couldn’t perform under her own name because the Waves owned the legal rights to it.  During that time, she hosted a show on BBC Radio and also played the legendary songwriter Ellie Greenwich in the West End production of Leader of the Pack.

But Katrina has also released several solo albums over the years. To these ears, the best was Turn the Tide, which came out more than a decade ago now and h was available through her website, www.katrinasweb.com.  Sadly – and somewhat amazingly – she doesn’t have a deal with a label.  “For many years, I [banged] my head against the wall, trying to get a deal,” says Katrina.  “I sent out 250 CD’s… and heard back from precisely no one… So I took the bull by the horns and decided to form my own company, manufacture my own CD and deliver it to the people.  I lick the envelopes… and I’m a lot happier doing it this way because I’m in control.”

Frankly, it’s difficult to understand why 250 companies passed on Katrina’s CD.  For one thing, she has name value, particularly in the UK.  But beyond that, Turn the Tide was an excellent album of mostly mid-tempo pop.  Katrina’s voice still sounds great and most of the songs are very good.  My personal favorite is “Hallowed Ground,” which wouldn’t sound out of place on AC or AAA stations.  There is also a nice cover of the Kirsty MacColl classic “They Don’t Know,” which Katrina does as a ballad.

Unfortunately, though, good music and name value don’t mean much in the music business – especially when you’re in your fifties.  Katy Perry’s voice can’t hold a candle to Katrina’s, but she is a lot younger and appeals to a money-spending demographic.

After “Walking on Sunshine,” Katrina & the Waves dented the charts a few more times, with songs like “Do You Want Crying,” “Sun Street” and “That’s the Way.”  But they never had another smash, at least not in America.  “’Walking on Sunshine’ was a hard act to follow,” Katrina admits.  “The song became bigger than us.  There was a point where people would say, ‘Who are you?’ ‘I’m Katrina, from Katrina & the Waves.’ Question-mark face. Then [I’d say] ‘Walking on Sunshine.’ ‘Oh yeah! I love that song! Wasn’t that Martha & the Muffins?’ You know, they’re asking me!”

A Man At Work

 

Colin Hay, the former leader of Men At Work, tells a similar story.  The Men had several bona fide smashes, but none was bigger than “Down Under,” their catchy 1983 song about Australia.  But Hay – who not only sung “Down Under,” but cowrote it – once met a woman who refused to believe it was his song.  “I wrote that song – ‘Down Under!’” he insists.  To which the woman replies, “No you didn’t.  You don’t remind me at all of Sting.”  Ouch!

Another of Hay’s favorite anecdotes is about the couple who showed up at one of his solo performances expecting to hear “The Safety Dance.”  That song – by the Canadian combo Men Without Hats – had nothing to do with Hay’s band, but was popular during the same period.  The punchline in the story is that when the couple finds out it’s not a Men At Work song, the woman still asks Hay if he’ll sing it.  Such is the payback for having a hit during the MTV era.

Few people have experienced the highs and lows of the music business to the extent that Colin Hay has.  It’s one thing to have a hit or two early in your career and then fade.  But Men At Work’s debut album, Business as Usual, was anything but.  In America alone, it topped the charts for an astounding 15 weeks, produced two number-one hits (“Down Under” and “Who Can It Be Now”) and won Hay and company a Grammy for Best New Artist.  In 1983, Men At Work was arguably the biggest band in the world.

The music business can be a fickle place, though.  Men At Work avoided the sophomore slump with their second album, Cargo.  That album – while not quite as successful as Business as Usual – still sold very well and produced two top 10 hits.  But the band’s third effort, Two Hearts, was a disaster.  It produced no hits. The band had split into various factions and broke up shortly after its release.  By the late ‘80s, Colin Hay was playing solo – to audiences a fraction of the size of those he’d played to a few years earlier.

“I’ll give you kind of a scale of things,” Hay tells me.  “We culminated playing the Us Festival in California, to maybe 150,000 people.  And that was toward the end of 1983… In ’88, I was back in Melbourne playing to 40 [or] 50 people, solo.  People in Melbourne didn’t really care about Men At Work.  So if you wanna stay in the game, you do what you can.”

Unlike some artists who have hit the big time and then fallen, Hay has no problem talking about his past.  During live performances, as in interviews, he is very open about it – even self-deprecating at times.  Hay has even documented his extraordinary career in some of his songs.  One such track is “My Brilliant Feat,” from his 1998 solo effort, Transcendental Highway.  In that song, he writes:

“Is it a game of chance, or merely circumstances?

A jack to a king and back,
Then you have to pay to play.

The world, it won’t wait for you,

It’s got its own things to do.

The sun’s gonna rise and dry another night away…

Once upon a time, I could do no wrong.

Though the candle flickers, the flame is never gone…”

It bears mentioning that Hay’s lyrics have grown considerably deeper since the mid-‘80s.  Men At Work was a good band, but not an especially deep one; they were fun and catchy and made some great singles.  But Hay has truly evolved from being a pop star to being an artist – which, in a way, is an even more brilliant feat than having your debut album top the charts for 15 weeks.

Over the last decade and change, Hay has built his career back from the ground up. He releases albums roughly every other year (the latest is Fierce Mercy), tours frequently, and was fortunate enough to land one of his songs on the soundtrack to the hit movie Garden State back in the day.  “I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You” is a sparse, somber ballad that originally appeared on Hay’s Peaks and Valleys disc.  This time around, the song became something of a left-field hit and earned him more attention than he’d seen in years.  He is currently signed to the nifty, Nashville-based label Compass Records.

“Maybe I won’t ever become as successful or as famous as I used to be,” he says in a tone that suggests he has made peace with this.  “But people come and they see [me perform] and it’s like they’re sharing something with you.  It doesn’t require any hype, any radio station pumping it.  It’s just simply you turn up and they turn up – and it works.  And it’s been a real life-saver for me all these years [given] the frustration of how labels operate – or how they don’t operate.  It’s even a compliment to call it an industry.  Because an industry would suggest that people actually know what they’re doing.” Over the years, Hay and I have shared stories about a former record industry suit who both of us worked with (and grew to dislike) separately.

His ambivalence toward labels was echoed by the other artists I spoke with.  One of the first things that Katrina told me was, “Here’s the thing about record labels: they are Kellogg’s and you are Cornflakes.  Warner Brothers, BMG, Capitol-EMI, all the majors – you are Cornflakes.  And when the brand doesn’t sell [anymore], they find another brand.”

 

Still Got the Feeling

 

The third artist I spoke with, Irene Cara, has also had an ambivalent relationship with record companies, to say the least.  A major force on the singles chart throughout the ‘80s, Cara’s hits included surging movie themes like “Fame” and “Flashdance…What a Feeling,” as well as the beautifully vulnerable ballad “Out Here on My Own” (also from Fame).  Her albums weren’t as successful as her singles, though, and by the end of the decade she too found herself without a record deal.  In 1993, Cara won a lawsuit against her former label, Nettwerk Records, for 1.5-million dollars in unpaid royalties.

Since then, Cara has emerged as the leader of Hot Caramel, a large, all-female band based in her adopted home state of Florida.  When I last spoke with her (roughly a decade ago now) Hot Caramel was putting the finishing touches on their first album which Cara hoped will be picked up by a label – a bit ironic, given her history. To the best of my knowledge, that album was released independently in 2011.

Of the three artists I spoke with, Cara is the least inclined to discuss (or perform songs from) her past.  Unlike Katrina, who has no qualms about singing “Walking on Sunshine” 30 years after the fact, or Colin Hay, who mixes old material with new at his shows, Cara prefers to focus on her current band and let go of the past.  She is especially adamant about not dwelling on Fame.  Even though that’s what ultimately made her a household name, she is rarely in touch with her former co-stars from the film and is tired of discussing it.  “People have to realize that you work on a project and then everybody goes their own way,” she explains.  “[Fame] was a moment in history that we all got together to be a part of – and that was it.  It’s not an ongoing part of our lives.”

That said, Cara also makes it clear that she is proud of that period of her career – not just musically, but in terms of its effect on the education system.  “I would love to do a tour that goes to all the performing arts schools across the country,” she says.  “’Fame had a lot to do with so many of them springing up – here and around the world.  That’s a great legacy.”

Cara is quick to distance the women in Hot Caramel from the current barrage of female pop-tarts and such.  And for good reason.  While the music business is quicker to spotlight women than it was 30 years ago, many of these women are not so much musicians as entertainers – and in some cases, they border on being strippers.

“[My music] is grown-up shit,” Cara states emphatically.  “We’re not really targeting the teen market – although I think we’ll appeal to the teen market as well… I think there’s room in music for another kind of image of women that hasn’t been readily promoted or readily seen – certainly not in pop-R&B.“  Interestingly, Cara is quick to give props to the Dixie Chicks.  “Country at least has some great songs and some great artists, who aren’t 11,” she says.  “[Artists] who can play and sing and actually write about something.  I would love for us to be the pop-R&B version of the Dixie Chicks.  That would be the highest compliment to us.”  Whether that happens, of course, remains to be seen.

***

 

I have to say again that I find it amazing that these three artists do not have major label record deals (although Hay has enjoyed a productive relationship with Compass, a respected mid-level indie). They are essentially being ignored by the same industry that once made stars of them.  It isn’t fair to relegate artists of their caliber to ‘where-are-they-now’ status when they still have a lot to say –and it’s equally unfair to their fans, who wonder what they are up to and who would likely enjoy their new music.  Nor does it bode well for the current crop of pop stars who dominate radio and MTV.  Look at it this way: if an Irene Cara or a Katrina Leskanich – both of whom can actually sing – can’t get a record deal, where do you think today’s Auto-Tuned singers like Katy Perry and Rihanna will be in 20 years?

© 2005/2017 by Dave Steinfeld, all rights reserved / contact: skinnythai@aol.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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