Thursday, March 8, 2012

Burning Question: Who Does Kate Nash Have to Sleep with to Become a Star?

Now that I've got your attention, let me ask you this: Do you remember where you were four years ago?

I do -- give or take a week, or a month. My best friend Lori was visiting me in Argentina for the first time, and the weekend before Super Tuesday of the Democratic Party presidential primaries, we went to Mendoza for a few days of rest, relaxation and wine tasting at Cavas Wine Lodge, in the middle of nowhere. It was a memorable weekend, filled with excellent conversation, copious amounts of vino tinto y blanco, and a horse-riding trek through the Andes with Salvador, our handsome Portuguese tour guide-for-a-day.

One memory that I'd tucked away until earlier this evening when it came blasting through my headphones while I was working out is "Pumpkin Soup," the Kate Nash song that was playing on repeat one particularly gorgeous morning that I spent running laps around the vineyard.

Whatever happened to her?

She scored a quick No. 2 UK hit in 2007 with "Foundations," which didn't even chart in the U.S. Her only other Top 20 UK hit, "Do-Wah-Doo," made it to No. 15 in 2010, while her only trip to Billboard's Hot 100 was with 2009's "Merry Happy" -- which hit No. 97, 19 notches higher than it peaked in the UK!

I won't pretend to know what makes a hit a hit, or why some stars rise and others never do. Why Katy Perry is a multi-platinum superstar and Robyn isn't. Why, as a Facebook friend recently wondered on my wall -- or timeline, as they apparently are now called -- Kelly Rowland has yet to fulfill her once-seemingly guaranteed destiny of solo stardom.

Why, of all the British female singer-songwriters to emerge in the mid-to-late '00s (Amy Winehouse, Adele, Duffy, Joss Stone, Lily Allen), Kate Nash is the one whose star never quite blasted off outside of the UK -- and even there, not for long. (According to her Wikipedia discography page, My Best Friend Is You, her 2010 follow-up to Made of Bricks, her 2007 platinum debut, peaked at No. 8 and hasn't received any UK certifications.)

Why the others and not her? Sure she lacks Adele's vocal prowess and Duffy's coquettish sex appeal, but her songs are sturdy and memorable. Perhaps it's the strong British accent she sings in, which since the '60s has contributed to the success stories of mostly one-hit wonders in the U.S. (Madness, Oasis, etc.) That wouldn't explain her UK lull, though, since Lily Allen sings in a similar Cockney style and still managed to sidestep the sophomore slump.

Perhaps Nash's upcoming third album, which is currently in the works and due late this year (again, according to Wikipedia), will reverse her chart trajectory. May it include a line as fantastic as "I'm not in love/ I just wanna be touched" from "Pumpkin Soup" (No. 23 in the UK, 2007), and a much bigger hit!

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