Staging a comeback is not for the faint hearted. Gina G stormed the charts in the mid-90s with her tantalizing anthem Ooh Ahh ... Just A Little Bit. Even its very name left one in suspense. Just what was she on about; was she a size queen? was she short changed at Primark? or did her hairdresser just need a little bit of encouragement? Straight-faced, sequined and ultraconfident, it's unforgettable intro was like a camp siren, instantly recognizable, and even to this day proclaims the musical identity of this Eurovision legend whom only straight people could have forgotten about. Loud and clear.
15 battle-scarred years later (and that's just myself), dance icon Gina is about to strike out yet again for career longevity and a p.a pursuit that will make sure there's not a gay in the world who has not been made aware that there is a site called iTunes with a new song called Next 2 Uavailable to buy for the price of 79p give or take the exchange rate. Her biggest hits sizzle and kaboom like an explosion of 90s euphoria; and her new one here is ready to create its own nostalgia and expand her musical boundaries by way of its Nintendo-inspired original version, and the feverish trance-formation of the new single edit.
Below: Gina G on the promo-trail in her native Australia, wearing a fashion-forward pink tutu, Gothic-chic corset, and the ultimate accessory for every diva of dance, a pair dancing gays she found at Starbucks!
The pulsating atmosphere and body-jerking grooves of Next 2 U are driven by Gina's lyrical excitement, gushing voice and blushing that tease "mmmm delicious". The energy level is on par with the rampant momentum of Ooh Ahh and the sumptuous I Belong To You, and Gina still revels in her enthusiasm for the opposite sex and clubccentric infection. I managed to harass the singer for long enough on Twitter for her to be kind enough to give up some time and answer some hard-hitting questions (well, some questions nevertheless). It's no secret that Gina G is one of my all time favourite singers, so I hope you enjoy. Here is part one:
Hi Gina - it's great to have you back doing what you do best. What took you so long?
Babies babies and more babies. Actually it’s only 2, but it feels like 100. Don’t get me wrong I love my family. It’s a juggling act. So to answer your question, I took time off to start my own circus.
Your 'size queen' anthem Ooh Ahh ... Just A Little Bit is your signature song. What surprised you most about the success you experienced with it?
Being Grammy nominated. When I found out, I think I fainted in my father’s front lawn.
What's the story with the track Heaven? It was, and still is, an amazing song that could be a hit single.
I agree with you. It’s on the list of potential re-makes.
One of the reasons I loved the 'demo' of Next To You was that it didn't pander to any particular market; it updated your sound whilst retaining your unique lyrical excitement, and just sounded like lots of fun. Do you feel pressure to recreate the sound of yourFresh! album, or are such atypical sounds the first taster of more to come in this vein?
I don’t feel any pressure to recreate anything. I am extremely excited about the sound of today. Next 2 U is nothing like the original demo you heard. You won’t recognize it and there’s no comparison. It’s still in a league of its own and even more classic poptastic with really cool synths. The only similarity to 1996 is that it sounds like me.
Below: one of the many iconic images Gina created in collaboration with acclaimed photographer David La Chappelle.
I saw David once in West Hollywood and he remembered me. We had a nice long latte. I was honoured again to be sitting across from such a genius. Style is extremely important. I’m not saying I haven’t made any fashion faux pas, but overall I get very involved and I love it. Just don’t get that photo of me at 8.30am racing the kids to school!
Another Eurovision queen Dana International had another stab at entering this year's contest but never made the final. What did you make of Dana's Ding Dong? Personally, despite a respectable performance, I felt her exotic appeal had gone and her ding dong was a bit limp.... Would you ever try to go back (again)?
Firstly, no disrespect to her because I know how hard it is to write the perfect pop song. But why ‘Ding Dong’? Is it Israeli for ‘you have large hands’?
To answer the 2nd part of your question: Highly unlikely. I doubt I would ever be able to create such a magical moment like I did in 1996. Plus I need to move on and progress as an artist. I’m sure my fans would agree.
And how would you do things differently if entering Eurovision became a serious possibility (ie, what would it take to make it seem appealing)?
If I could be the front person with the the 2006 winners Lordi, I would be there. “Good lordi”.
Who are your show biz friends? And what famous person would you put straight to voicemail (and why)?
I’ve had many great conversations with Pete Burns in seedy corners of nightclubs. I love him.
I would put Jesse James straight to voicemail. How could you cheat on Sandra Bullock? She’s one of my idols.
Below: G reveals that she and Pete Burns always have a great crack together.
A very big rock star at the time, practically forced me into a room to partake in an illicit drug snorting fest. I escaped unharmed and undrugged.
What reality TV shows have you been offered that you can remember? Personally, I think you would be great on Strictly Come Dancing (camp, glittery and glamorous - obviously your fans would expect nothing less).
I’ve been asked to do “I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here” about 20 times. The answer is no every time. I hate spiders!!! Also “Celebrity Total Wipeout” – no way!!! I actually have my UK agent looking into “Strictly Come Dancing”. I would say YES to this one.
Tonight's The Night was a corker of a comeback song (fast and bold Latin rhythms and your trademark gushing vocal delivery), and it's b-side Undone was my personal favourite (almost going into darker Dannii Minogue territory if you don't mind me saying). Not to be picky, but you did promise us a follow-up "no matter what". Lots of things get in the way of course, but what is the story career-wise with that era?
I fell pregnant with my 2nd child right after I returned from the UK promo tour of “Tonight’s the Night”.This was totally unexpected, but well worth it. She is amazing.
Are there any celebrities that you could 'out' as Gina G fans?
Cher. When she heard my album she said to the chairman of Warner Music ‘I want that sound for my album’. Enrique Englesias. When he heard “Ti Amo” on the radio in Europe, he immediately wrote the next song with the producers of that track, Metro (now Metrophonic).
Your song Tease has recently been recorded by Nomi Madness (whom your righthand man John Collins, I believe, has been working with). What do you think of his version, and is writing for other artists something you'd like to do more?
It’s always flattering when someone covers your work. I’d love to write for other artists such as Katy Perry, Kylie, to name a few.
Who do you see as your contemporaries (or friendly 'rivals')?
Pop is back, so I am in great company. I do feel I have a unique sound.
Would you ever work with Motiv8 and Metro again? When I heard the Metro-produced Heartbeat for Enrique I immediately thought it sounded like a Gina G song.
I would work with Metro again in a heartbeat!
While I am at it - the song Believe recorded by Cher was written by Metro and famously rejected by a number of singers, and I was wondering if the song was ever offered to you? Or what songs have you turned down that we would know of?
Believe was never offered to me, but “Runaway” from the “Believe” album was. It wasn’t for me.
Was it annoying seeing pretty much any other dance diva and her mother getting their own Motiv8 remixes during the 90s and stealing your sound as it were?
No because mine was by far the biggest hit. Steve Rodway who is Motiv8 is a one trick pony. He’s only ever did one sound and he’ll only ever have that one sound. That’s why I didn’t do the 2nd album with him. And he didn’t pay me a penny for the first album. Sour grapes at all….absof**kinglutley!
These days, the Freemasons are the ubiquitous dance producers of the moment: who would be your dream collaborators to make dance music with?
RedOne, Dr Luke, Metrophonic again.
What information can you give about your new album, including song titles, that you haven't told any other blog?
“Into The Night “and “Kinky” are being rewritten and re-produced beyond recognition.
Thanks Gina G. Best of luck with the new project - I look forward to hearing more about it!
Well, I think I may have to lie down after that. My closing thoughts: I love Gina's undiminished passion for what she does, and the process involved in creating the songs; her eagerness to do Strictly Come Dancing; I can't wait to hear Kinky as it has the potential to be as amazing as the title track to her debut; the Pete Burns and Cher name-dropping were 'fabulous'; it was interesting to know she turned down Runaway (it's a tad generic, but Cher gives it some gusto I suppose, and I agree it wasn't a Gina G track); I wanted to add "hear hear" to the Steve Roadway answer (as much as I love his vintage sound, he didn't move on and his remixes quickly became stale at the time when her sophomore album would have been released had there been no 'issues' to put it mildly); and the line "I escaped unharmed and undrugged" should be used in a sentence at least once a day! If you're a fan, I hope you enjoyed my interview, and for everyone else, please check out Next 2 U, it's a really special, and enticing, dance track well-worthy of the singer's special legacy.