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Melanie C - Northern Star (1999) Retail CD
There is much to be said about Melanie C's debut. The former Sporty Spice outdid herself stylistically, jumping into musical territory that has a very strong rock edge. I have heard Mel C, Emma, and Geri's solo debuts, and though they're all enjoyable, "Northern Star" is undoubtedly the strongest of the three. In the past, Mel's voice wasn't particularly impressive, and it was obvious she sometimes stood out in the bunch. After hearing this album, one quickly realizes that not only does Mel have plenty of writing talent; as a solo singer, she really shines.
Collaborating with admired producersmore… like Rick Nowels and Craig Armstrong, Mel C succeeded in creating an album that is both innovative and emotionally moving. While her voice still lacks in strength, she has a kind of sweet and appealing quality similar to artists like Dido or Jewel. She has a knack for writing and comes across as a very strong woman in emotion and spirit when she sings. "Northern Star's" flow is a bit rugged: Mel jumps from hard thumping tracks to soft and twinkling ballads. However, this diversity is rather impressive and showcases her talent very well.
Go: This track will hook you instantly. Opening with a demanding drumbeat and echoing electric guitars, it sounds like something you could crank up in your car on the freeway. The music and the lyrics compliment one another well; Mel sings of getting away and starting over. It's a traveling song, with it's edgy pan flute loops and warm bells, and it really does make you want to just pick up and go. In the second chorus, the intensity builds as Mel begins singing `la la' arpeggios. Throughout the track, gentle choral `ohhs' add a whole new dimension of depth to the already incredible song. This is a fantastic opener! I just love it! 6/5
Northern Star: Switching gears, this song is slower and subdued, with a Latin style and sparkling chimes. I've always enjoyed the light and airy percussion; it sounds almost delightfully hollow. Much of the emotion comes from the longing string arrangement and the persistence of Mel C's vocals. This is a very inspiring tune with a few synthesizer loops thrown in here and there. It's just beautiful! 5/5
Goin' Down: I love this song; it's so angry and aggressive! It's a great stress reducer, really. This is easily the hardest rocking song on the whole album, with tons of distortion, harsh drumbeats and deep electric guitars. Again, the lyrics and the music compliment each other perfectly. Mel simply vents and screams through the whole song: but it's absolutely fantastic. As the chorus begins, strong choral voices and synthesizers sounding like underwater bells join in. In the verses, Mel sings `you're goin' down' and a distorted electronic beep slowly moves down the scale. I went nuts when I heard that; it just makes the whole song! 6/5
I Turn To You: Easily the most popular song from "Northern Star", it's easy to hear why once the song begins. It's simplicity in lyric and emotion allows the music to take center stage. A very stylized dance and electronica number, the chords are simply brilliant. Echoing twinkles and intense strings carry throughout the entire song. Personally, I find the dance remixes of this song to be more satisfying, but this original version has an innocence that's stunning. For the first time, the piano makes an appearance, occasionally adding sensitivity to this otherwise very deep and musically rich tune. The bridge portion may be the best part, as the strings build and electrical distortion layers over every other instrument. 5/5
If That Were Me: Taking another turn in musical style, Mel sings honest lyrics accompanied by a sweetly played acoustic guitar and simple but effective lower strings. This song lacks in musical intensity, but it has a raw quality that I really enjoy. The message delivered in this song is heart wrenching and very realistic. Vocally, Mel really shines here. Without all the crash and bang of harsh drums or loud electronic blips, you can really hear the purity in her voice. A very sad song, it's beautiful nonetheless, and a very nice tune to sing along to. 5/5
Never Be The Same Again: Collaboration between Mel C and Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes resulted in this innovative and exciting track, which I have always loved. It's the only song on "Northern Star" with a more laid back and R&B feel to it, and while I normally don't care for songs possessing that style, I found this fantastic. The repetitive chord arrangement is surprisingly welcome to the ears, and creates this awesome feeling of falling into bliss. Lisa's rap in the bridge portion of the song is very catchy and it fits wonderfully with Mel C's light vocals. Entirely warm and seductive, the song includes acoustic guitars and syncopated drum loops. While the lyrics themselves aren't exactly groundbreaking, they compliment the general tone of the music well. 5/5
Why: Very dark piano arrangements and spacey sounds help make this song the most disturbing on the album. Musically, I'm reminded of the second track when I hear this. Long dreary notes are played on electric guitars as Mel's backing vocals croon. The beauty in this song lies in the ever-building intensity. From verse to chorus and so on, the emotion continues to work toward its climax. By the time the song reaches its end, Mel has reached an emotional peak full of hurt and guilt. She sings with so much dark enthusiasm in the last chorus; it's a real tearjerker. 5/5
Suddenly Monday: The shortest track, it's completely adorable and cute. A playful piano carries the song along with brightness, and is ultimately the backbone of the tune. Musically, the track is a bit more stripped compared to previous tracks. Although toward the end of the song, a very enthusiastic trumpet appears. The arpeggios on the piano are a shining moment. Mel is obviously having a great time singing this, and that makes the song that much more enjoyable. 5/5
Ga Ga: I find this song to be the least appealing on the album. Though I have to say that Mel's vocals are really good here, and her lyrics are a little more fun. This is another rocking guitar driven tune; in fact, I can't hear any other instruments except guitars. Maybe that's why I find it a little less exciting. However, the arrangement of the song is great and it's perfectly depressing (which somehow works well). It's a nice emotional ride. 4/5
Be The One: A soft acoustic guitar opens this track, which is a nice surprise. It's similar to track 5 in musical style, with gentle drums and sensitive vocals. This would be a great song to slow dance to; it just has a nice romantic tone. I imagine plenty of adult contemporary fans would enjoy this. 4/5
Closer: Somehow, I've always thought of this as the companion song to track 2. It's very much the same musically, with the familiar Latin groove and occasional wispy sound effects. However, this is a love song, not an inspirational anthem. It's extremely sensual and lush with beautiful chords. A Spanish guitar accompanies Mel C throughout the tune, complimenting the gentle vibe well. During the bridge, a flute soloist carries the melody. Everything about this is divine. 5/5
Feel The Sun: Stripped of nearly all percussion, except gentle clicks and occasional thumps, this sounds like a song from Bjork's album "Vespertine", or maybe the closing track from K.D. Lang's album "Invincible Summer". Mel's vocals are extremely heartfelt and gorgeous here, as is the string arrangement. Not quite as intense as previous tracks musically, somehow I'm just as moved. The gentle electronic pulses make this a very sparkly song. What a wonderful note to end the album on! 6/5
Though Melanie C's follow up album "Reason" has a more consistent style, I would recommend this release over her second effort. It has a much broader range of music and is much more electronic and contemporary. However, her vocals are stronger on "Reason" and her lyrics are a little more complex, so if you adore her singing you might want to check it out.
|4||I Turn to You|
|5||If That Were Me|
|6||Never Be the Same Again|
|10||Be the One|
|12||Feel the Sun|
- Melanie C - Northern Star (1999) Retail CD
- 1541 x 1541 px
- 373 KB
- 560 (0 today)
- 03/08/09 by musicworld
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