Whenever summer rolls around, it's time to pull out Josh Hoge's "Work That Body."
02 Work That Body by poppostergirl
Slinky, pervy funk, "Work That Body" makes excellent use of Josh's falsetto while still keeping a nod or two to the grit that his voice usually has. It was one of several fantastic tracks we were treated to in the run-up to Josh's eventually canceled major label debut Call It What You Want back in 2006. Lead single "360" was like an early version of Justin Timberlake's "What Goes Around....Comes Around" or a Ne-Yo-penned ballad, made all the better by the slight rasp in Josh's voice, but it unfortunately never took off at the radio. "Take It Or Leave It" is stomping southern-fried pop-rock with a snappy, spitfire chorus. It would go on to make appearances on an EP and the independent album Josh eventually released, but neither version is as good as the one from the Call It What You Want era. Like many of Josh's songs, it was co-written with Ryan Tedder before he was in fashion. "Undone" is another such song, with Josh's original being much better than the version that appeared on the Backstreet Boys album of last year (I love the boys' voices, but they sound surprisingly characterless on "Undone").
I didn't love the album Josh was able to release in 2008 as much as I might have hoped based on that earlier material, but I'm still convinced he's a talent. No song on the album shows that better than my favorite, the semi-ballad "Stay Away." If I'd realized at the time that it was a single, it certainly would have made my "Favorite Singles of 2008" list--the melody is beautiful, taking an unexpected twist here or there while never coming off as try-hard. Josh's voice, as usual, elevates the song, preventing any risk of blandness while still not being left-of-field; he's like an R&B singer trapped in a southern rock singer's voice, a combination which adds up to a great pop voice.
The good news is that Josh is still writing songs. He released a Christmas album last year. His "Know My Name" appeared on Blake Lewis's first album, though I suspect that was a song originally meant for Josh (you can hear his demo on his MySpace; it's always sounded like a song that would match him to a T, and he proves it) and, more recently, several of his songs were recorded by American Idol contestant Anoop Desai. I'm glad of that, but, though I know it will never happen, I wish we'd have the chance to hear that unreleased 2006 album in its entirety. Josh has moved on, as he should, but from the sound of everything we heard (the aforementioned songs and "Damn Thing"), it wouldn't be just "Work That Body" I'd play every summer--it'd be the whole album.
Though Call It What You Want was never released, you can find it on a Biggest Loser soundtrack, available on US iTunes here. You can buy other work by Josh here (physical) and here (digital).
(I need to do a whole post about "Stay Away" at some point. It's excellent.)