Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The woman who probably should hate Ke$ha even more than I do

It sucks to be in the right place at the wrong time.

That's the sad fate that befell Lina, a singer I met back in the early '00s when I was an editor at Teen People magazine, and she was signed to Atlantic Records. Her debut album, Stranger on Earth, was an interesting mix of contemporary R&B, jazz and big-band swing that helped her stand out in R&B field crowded with wannabe hip-hop-soul queens. (Mary J. Blige ruled!) Unfortunately for her, she had the misfortune of coming out just as Blu Cantrell was taking off with "Hit 'em Up Style (Oops!)," a similar blend of disparate musical elements that would go on to make Cantrell a one-hit wonder in the U.S.

I thought about Lina this afternoon when my iPod shuffle landed on "Yeah Yeah" by Bodyrox featuring Luciana, a No. 2 UK hit from 2006. Then I thought about Ke$ha, who is sort of Luciana's Blu Cantrell. Except Ke$ha, who had every right to be a one-hit wonder, is now on her sixth solo hit -- and she followed Luciana by several years.

Luciana is what Ke$ha might sound like without the bottle of Jack and with some real talent. Unfortunately for London-born Luciana, though she scored two great mid-to-late-'00 UK hits with the DJ duo Bodyrox -- "Yeah Yeah" and "What Planet You On?" -- and one with Super Mal ("Bigger Than Big"), she lacked the marketable look (slut chic?) and carefully manufactured image (pop's party girl) that Ke$ha rode to stardom, and she didn't have as pop-savvy a producer as DJ Luke in her corner. Though she continues to make music (she co-wrote the track "Cupid Boy" on Kylie Minogue's 2010 album, Aphrodite), today she's best known, if she's known at all, for spicing up other people's records -- Bodyrox's, Super Mal's, Freddy Le Grand's, Taio Cruz's and on and on.

Check out the videos below and see how she managed to do in the space of two singles what Ke$ha still hasn't managed to do in six: put her name on two songs that weren't completely interchangeable. May a U.S. breakthrough be in Luciana's near future.

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