Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Where's The Love?

With face-slapping attitude, Lisa Scott-Lee shams her critics and slams her dancefloor agenda with 'no batteries required'. The prickly but bitchin' song Electric was a 2005 slam dunk smash hit, with Lisa appropriately dressed as the 'bad girl' at an 80s Puerto Rican prom in a video that looked like a low budget Pepsi commercial, and had more bounce than me jumping on a basketball player. A disappointing chart position of #13 in the UK dimmed a schorching 3 single dance-pop career blaze, for baffling reasons that involved Lisa thinking it was a good idea to go along with her manager's suggestion that she make herself appear as desperate as possible by announcing she would quit making music if her single swerved passed reaching the elusive top 10. Female dance artists have it hard (and not in a good way): many do not even have a myspace profile, a 'featuring' bill, or even get to star in the video if one is actually made. Labelling a solo female dance singer a 'flop' is a tad self-fulfilling when radio, TV and newspapers are notoriously hard to impress within this genre.

Simultaneously released along with Dannii Minogue's Perfection and Jenny Frost's Crash Landing, it was an exciting era where sadly none of them got their just deserts. Lisa's unsure determination was evident with her face furrowed like a cracked egg shell as the blistering track rattled on compelling her to 'buzz like a vibrator' whilst keeping a straight albeit-asymmetrical face. Disposable lyrics are part of what pop is loved for and here she boasts: 'I'll buzz like a vibrator, an energy creator, yeah, yeah, yeah' ... 'duracell got nothing on me' ... 'jack me up feeling the E' ... and 'feel me, I’m unprotected / see spots now we’re connected' (as if sharing an STD is the new sharing an ice-cream cone).

Above: Lisa's live P.A's are legendary at gay clubs where her loyal and crazy fans will claw at homosexuals and stop at nothing to try and touch their favourite Steps member.

Scott-Lee's stellar career in Steps does not invest me beyond the stunning Love's Got A Hold of My Heart and the sun-reflecting Last Thing On My Mind. Nevertheless, Lisa's solo singles showcased the kind of vocal grit, production gusto and glamorous edge that helped make 2003 a fantastic year for fans of alpha-female electronic dance-pop. Holly, Dannii, Rachel, Britney, Libery X, Jamelia, Sugababes - they were all at it.

Above: Lisa's courageous reality TV venture on MTV distracted attention away from the music, and despite her likeable enthusiasm she came across to many as laughably desperate. Her album Never Or Now was eventually released in South Africa with a horrible 'we don't think you're that beautiful' front cover.

Lately is her unfortunately-titled sole and last top 10 hit to date, a flashy number with a sweet chorus with designs on blending Kylie and Dannii and coming up with a titanium groove that is all her own. Its improbably fun and frothy b-side I'm Burning is just magnificently delicate but is Hi-NRG inspired. Her best was yet to come: Too Far Gone performed admirably, stabbing the charts at #11 in a tough sales week. Echoing Alcazar, it remains her finest single and could have been released by Dannii or even Infernal.

Above: Sex siren Lisa gets famously impatient, pictured here waiting to find out if she got the part of 'skank on a chair' to tide her over financially until her next magazine deal.

I personally saw Lisa perform at a really nasty gay dive called Bennets in Glasgow: basically I was very drunk and sensibly pushed my way right to the front not knowing where my friends were (this is when it all went wrong). I had to cling onto the railing by the stage for dear life as her hysterical fans tried all but knawing my hands off in order to prize my fingers off the banister. Luckily for me, when these nutters got the attention of a security guard, even whilst pissed out my face, I was still able to eyeball some sanity to the burly bouncer and got to stay put. Now onto Lisa: she basically stood as far back as possible within this tiny 'stage', from her fans leaning out to her like starving African children at a Madonna concert, and even her backing dancers looked at her with such incredulous embrassment which made the ordeal almost worth it. The next day I had bruises, but that might just be another story.

Below: creating 'buzz' for her #23 guest vocalist single Get It On with her collaborators Intenso Project too embarassed to be seen.
Special mention must go to her sultry secret weapon Back In Time (later covered by Angel City), a slinky distortion of painful regret and brittle self-preservation. It boasts her most lusty vocal to date, cracking under the pressure of things going wrong: 'such deep regrets can't pay my debts' and an ad-lib that twirls down the plughole make the singer a sympathetic and highly emotive performer far beyond what she will ever be given credit for.

Above: 'Oh to have a second chance to try ... I wanna go back and do it all again'.

Lisa might have a face like an egg shell, but her similarly dented and bashed beauty has never been more evident than on a recent photo-shoot 'doing a Demi' whilst 7 months pregnant - publicity whoring shows her back very much in form, and I for one cannot wait for her to come to her senses and get her priorities straight by finally releasing more sexually ecstatic dance fodder, singing about sex, dancing sexily in a club and more filthy anthems about having it off 'unprotected'. Lisa's 3 single legacy of trashy publicity stunts and dancefloor sass grooves on.

Here is what I wrote about Lisa back in 2007 on popjustice:

Everyone associates desperation with Scott-Lee, but I think she is mostly just very sensitive and not really equipped to properly deflect her critics. Electric is still a good song, but it came a couple of years too late, amongst a smug media portrayal (her CD:UK treatment was almost sickening) and a time-limit and budget all seemed to catch up with her on close-up. She was without her safely net. I think she sounded all the more compelling for it, but battling these ridiculous barriers, she did very well. At the time it was herself, Dannii and Jenny Frost releasing tracks with very narrow appeal. Of the lot, Electric was the most commendable. Not that that is saying much; Dannii was doing herself no favours mixing botox with Ibiza and Frost at least got the sentiment right with her song title. Lisa should avoid questions of giving up, or just answer "what do you think"; "fuck off, I was in Steps".

Enough! - thanks for reading.

Never Or Now download here.


Mike said...

Comment of the week: "Everyone associates desperation with Lisa Scott Lee"

Diva Incarnate said...

The 'gays' just love their ugly ducklings, what can I say?

I've been listening to 'Sleazy' and 'Obscenely Delicious' all day today!

Can't wait for album number 2.

QH said...

I've just rediscovered my love of Steps, the only African-American man, orientation notwithstanding, to like them in the U.S. I'm sure, lol. Check out my most recent article about them (and their reunion).

I remember when this came out, but I'm not at all familiar with the music. Would you describe this as a purchase I should or should not make? On a Steps note, "Buzz" is amazing & was the first album I ever imported. I plan on ordering their UC today actually after work & class. Let me know & enjoy the article!-QH

Diva Incarnate said...

Oh gosh... are we talking Lisa's SOuth African-only release Never Or Now? It's an incomplete document of her solo work - she had an album set to hatch after Too Far Gone, but was pulled after that song 'only' got to number 12. Then of course she embarked on a reality TV show that bullied her into saying she would quit music if her song, which turned out to be Electric, missed the top ten (which it did). It was a horrible, albeit entertainingly so, exercise with lots to analyze in terms of reality tv itself as a genre.

I never really listened to her Never Or Now album, but there is one LOVELY gem called Back In Time that I would definitely try and purchase. The label that put the album out are due to re-release it with some extra tracks so if you are aiming to actually buy some solo music from her I would perhaps wait to hear more news on this.

I did skim your article, but had a mock-exam today so will go back to it later if not tomorrow when I am on more relaxed form shall we say!