Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Defense WON'T Rest: Girlicious & RichGirl

This is a new series in which I will examine critically or fan derided (maybe even generally neglected) works of pop acts and defend them because that many people CAN be wrong.

Round 2 of this installment centers around 2 failed girl groups with mid maybe late 2000s Pop/R&B/"Urban" musical sounds to them. One of these groups is Girlicious, the Robin Antin formed group that was poorly promoted outside of a CW vanity project. The other was RichGirl, formed by producer Rich Harrison who apart from producing material for Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez & Mary J. Blige to name a few, is the reason Amerie had a career that he screwed over in 2007.

I've written about Girlicious before and how Robin Antin's lack of anything remotely close to foresight or planning screwed Girlicious out of some position on the U.S. charts [in my opinion, Maleficent who is better known in this case as Nicole Scherzinger, probably had something to do with Geffen Records shipping the group off to Canada 'n such.]
However, the group was unfairly labeled a Pussycat Dolls knockoff when in fact it was more of an expansion of the PCD brand [which again suffered because Antin and co. thought a girl group formed on U.S. Reality Television should be pimped to Canada...] There are 3 reasons as to why this group should've been given a better chance in the U.S.

- "Like Me": the lead/debut single/video/last time Girlicious would ever be shown to the U.S. market.

"Like Me" embodies all the good parts of Pop/R&B in the mid to late 00s. Bulletproof confidence, Jazze Pha both with a feature and Nichole, Chrystina and Tiffanie singing their asses off on a pop record [with Natalie doing the talk-singing thing AKA the "Parking the Car" of vocals.]
Granted, a sign this group was doomed was that the CW finale version that aired in the States and the version used here and on their self-titled debut is NIGHT AND DAY in sound [with the video being RADICALLY a different edit from TV to VEVO.] However, malleable voices on a reality show to real life had gone better because of promo with effort [see the 2 successful songs of Danity Kane.]

- "Baby Doll": a follow-up single that although not as successful in Canada, still showed they were sort of ahead of their time video wise.

Anybody catch the Beats by Dre headphones before it was probably mandated for all Universal/Interscope artists to show them off along with all other Beats by Dre products? Aside from that, all 4 members of the group are actually integral to the song [FWIW, I don't hate Natalie's singing. I hated her singing for the most part on the CW show because it was...bad...luck I suppose because her voice is somewhat decent.]

- "Maniac": the only single from Rebuilt worth looking up at all.

This does count as reason to appreciate the group even if their new label at the time, Universal Music Canada, booted Tiffanie for a more obvious "pop" sound. Still, this track has something of a timeless sound for pop music which is hard to get right. Natalie's singing sounded way better than it had before, Nichole was slightly edgier but still had the initial appeal and Chrystina was once again the MVP of the video and song with that "PARANOID" money note.
After Girlicious, Tiffanie became an artist and has pretty much said "fuck this noise" to music; Natalie formed a group with her sisters; Nichole was left alone, renamed Girlicious into Girls United & got screwed out of a place in the live shows of The X Factor S3 [thanks to both Alex & Sierra and her useless GU members.] and Chrystina is pretty much the successful one from the group with a new music video and a soon to be released EP called Leo.

IN SHORT, Girlicious wasn't going to give TLC, Destiny's Child or even Nicole & The Got Screwed-Overs a run for their money but had Antin tried a little harder, Danity Kane could've been given an even run for their money.

With RichGirl, they had slightly better connections but the worst of luck as most of the singles to their name were leaks not worth a 1st or 2nd listen to. However, there are 2 reasons that had Harrison or the label RCA/Jive tried a little harder and not let 400 songs leak, RichGirl might've to enter the charts at higher positions.

"He Ain't With Me Now (Tho)": the first song to their name that hadn't leaked.

FUN FACT: for the hot minute this song caught on, everyone that viewed it thought each member looked like a certain celebrity; Lyndriette looked like Beyonce, Se7en looked like Kelly Rowland, Brave looked like Leona Lewis and Audra looked like Nicole Scherzinger.
Aside from look-a-like fuckery, the group was actually made of 3 prominent vocalists and Brave doing her best with an ancillary verse and ad-libs [to the Brave fans that somehow find this, gurl get out of that house of mirrors and listen up; Se7en got another verse RIGHT AFTER YOUR PART. You weren't meant to last, sweetie.]

"Swagger Right": a song that although catchy cemented the doomed fate of this group when both Fabolous and Rick Ross kind of wax all but Se7en on this song.

It was pretty much pre-ordained after the 400th leaked song and this video debuting that Se7en would be the solo star and all others wouldn't prosper like her. Still, Audra is actually given more to do singing wise, Lyndriette holds her own, Brave accepted her 4th place role in the group and Se7en as mentioned before would kick the other 3 down a flight of stairs on this song.

After RichGirl, Se7en got some sense and changed her name to Sevyn Streeter and is now a protoge of Chris Brown; Brave would get something of a chance to be relevant on R&B Divas: LA [but would be outshined by Chrisette Michele being sick of Stacey Francis' shit] and Lyndriette changed her name to Kristal and is now part of the budding girl group Kelly Rowland formed from the BET show Chasing Destiny which is now signed to Epic Records.
(As to what happened to Audra? Well...I think she's happy that she got to close out "Swagger Right"...hell I don't know. Let's say she's now the May going on June Redbox Employee of the Month.)

As with Girlicious, RichGirl was a group that needed to be given a better chance. Nobody would've expected them to shatter a Destiny's Child record or have the fan devotion of TLC, but that neither group was given a chance is really disappointing. All members had something of versatile, malleable vocal skills that fit the script of the late 00s Pop/R&B/"Urban" market but had the classic case of bad luck; shitty representation that amounted to wasted potential.

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