Sunday, June 06, 2010

Making a rhyme or two to get me through this song

Let's take a moment. Take a breath. Set aside the glowsticks and the glitter and spend four minutes or so curled up listening to an old Alexis Strum song.

More To Life Than This by poppostergirl

"More To Life Than This" is the singer-songwriter side of Alexis--not that her sense of musicality and way around a melody are ever lost, but there are fewer flecks of electronic sparkle on it than are on "Rock This Disco" or "Coming On Strong"--but instantly accessible, catchy in a "favorite album track" sort of way. Over a strummy guitar backdrop, Alexis narrates a story for anyone who's ever felt like they're stuck in a life that isn't the one they imagined for themselves. It's an unassuming mid-tempo track that, in a reverse of the singer's growing realization of dissatisfaction, slowly reveals itself to be a quiet anthem. Less a song for winter depression and more for an overcast late summer day.

(Alexis, to work back to what I probably should have started with, is a very talented British artist who is the poster child for how frustrating the music industry can be. She was signed to a deal with one record company in 2002, recorded an album, released a single, and was dropped before being signed by another record company a few years later, recording another album, releasing another single, and being dropped again. She's also the creator and original singer of Rachel Stevens's much-adored song "Nothing Good About This Goodbye" as well as Kylie Mingoue's "Still Standing." After her time fronting an unsigned group, I thought she basically retired from the industry--figuring a song of hers that appeared on German group Monrose's third album was just an old song finally making an appearance--but apparently she did some writing for Diana Vickers's album, though nothing made the cut. She's worked with some incredible songwriters and producers like Greg Kurstin, Xenomania, Pascal Gabriel, Richard X, and Billy Steinberg, but she's a talent in her own right. Please write more, Alexis! Or, perhaps more accurately, please use the songs she writes, singers!)

You can buy some of Alexis Strum's music via Amazon UK. If you live in the UK, her work from her second album is available on iTunes.


Robpop said...

Ok I am gonna say it. Gulp...i found her a bit boring. Her songs were only interesting depending on the producers and writers she worked with. To that end, she was behind some great pop songs but i always got the feeling her more interesting moments were a result of the people she worked with.

Was this a problem? I suppose not. So many popstars are pretty much about the people they work with. Thats nothing new. But i think "why didnt Alexis Strum work". This being the crux of the issue. And that would be the fact that I think the audience felt she was a bit of a boring popstar. And not interested.

To an extent i think its the same issue that resulted in the demise of Rachel Stevens as a viable pop acts. She had some amazing pop songs given to her.

If Kylie released So Good+Negotiate With Love+I Said Never Again (But Here Are Again)...they'd be celebrated for the pop gems they truly are.

Indeed, Miss Strums pop opus Still Standing is still celebrated on the Kylie forums as a star of Body Language.

Yes, Alexis Strums version was outta this world - even in its demo form.....But maybe there's something about personality/character in a popsong that can't be guaranteed by the singer but rather by popstar that records it.

I think its the same sorta thang we see with Miranda Cooper. She too had loads of pop careers. But it was only when she started giving songs to Girls Aloud that the mud started to stick. The gloriously addictive hooks with those wonderful witty lyrics had to come out of the voices of Girls Aloud. Rather than Moonbaby.

Aaron said...

Rachel Stevens? Kylie? Very exciting! - Can't wait to give it a chance - How could I not with those names?

Poster Girl said...

Bobby, I can't lie and say I adored every single one of her songs and I don't have access to the data in regards to distribution of songwriting credit, but the general consistency level across her songs makes me think that, though she was lucky to work with good writers, she brings quite a lot to the table, too. Her recordings that sound like they're just done by her of songs written only by her further that impression. It's rare rough acoustic demos capture me, but some of hers do. Finally, for my money, she's a skilled interpreter of songs, even if hypothetically she had nothing to do with them. I get that the world at large didn't connect with her--and it's true, maybe they would buy the material coming out of someone else's mouth--but for me, the quality of the songs Alexis created (some by herself, I'll say again) and the quality of her interpretations of those songs means that she's someone I'll always appreciate, regardless of her level of commercial success.

Aaron, if those are the names that interest you, I'd recommend starting with some different Alexis songs--the ones from her shelved first album (the single was "Addicted," and a bunch of other songs are probably "out there" with some good Googling) are must more in line with those popstars' works. I hope you find something you enjoy!

Robpop said...

Indeed- ur very right. I was just thinking - why didn't the mud stick with Alexis? When the music was so damn good?

Paul said...

I liked little Alexis and sort of mourn the fact that she hasn't recorded any other albums. I still return to Bad Haircut every now and again, just for fun. and when my hair looks shit. Like it does today!

Robert said...

It would be nice to see Alexis perhaps put out an internet album ala Sarah Whatmore. Alexis does have those fans. And also Tyler James. Surely hes got a tiny bit of money left over from somewhere. Or perhaps he owes Island Records...sometimes it doesnt pay to be signed to a big label.

Poster Girl said...

It's a good question, Bobby. I enjoy conversations like these!

It's much more moving than you'd expect a song with that title to be.

That would be fantastic--on both counts! I'd love to hear more from Tyler. He's one of those acts I keep a little candle burning for in my mind, hoping against hope that he'll magically come back some day.