Yesterday, I posted a short commentary on the British pop group, Liberty X and their rendition of the timeless Shalamar classic, "A Night To Remember". In my discussion, I failed to mention that Liberty X recorded the song as part of the annual BBC Children in Need charity – no doubt a worthwhile cause.
After I posted my initial comments, I took a real good look at the group – there's no denying that each member has a decent voice, or that they're an attractive lot, but I think that this group was largely put together based on the latter criteria. These days, pop bands – pop stars for that matter – are largely groomed (like a product), not grown. Gone are the days when people actually grew up immersed in music and the arts and then set out to stake their claim in the ever-changing landscape of popular music. Musicians, bands and groups are now – more often than not – the contrivance of some music exec! The exception to this rule is the multitude of indie artists out there, though (in fairness) there are a great many exceptional artists signed with major music labels – they just don't receive proper attention from their respective companies!
In fairness, Shalamar was put together as well – by Dick Griffey; two of the groups founding members – the slinky Jeffrey Daniels and the gorgeous and talented Jody Watley – had been dancers on Soul Train; after changes that included two male leads, the group added it's most-recognized frontman, Howard Hewett some years later. The difference is, Shalamar's two singers did in fact prove that they had the potency and skill to become stars in their own right – this is especially true in Watley's case. Indeed, Jody Watley's subsequent successes – which included platinum and gold albums and singles and a Grammy – were achieved on her own merits as many people were largely unfamiliar with her status in status as Shalamar's first lady.
I must categorically state that I have no problem whatsoever with pop music. Indeed, pop music need not be a bad distinction – a great many innovators arose from the oft-maligned umbrella genre in the Seventies: ABBA — The Carpenters — Tony Orlando and Dawn — Captain & Tenille. The Eighties gave us Madonna, Kylie Minogue and George Michael, all of whom continue to release interesting (if not necessarily groundbreaking) albums. In the mid-'90s, with the advent of boy groups and teen-pop, pop music seemed to take an aesthetic nose-dive wherein commercial appeal far exceeded musical value [Case in point: Britney Spears]. Also, the continued acquisition and/or absorption of record companies by multi-media corporations has only exacerbated this problem as corporations prize only what sells, not necessarily what's good. The same holds true for other forms of media like film and books.
In finishing, I'd like to go back to Liberty X; their cover isn't bad, just contrived – like they are. I leave you with the original music video for the original song by Shalamar!