March 5, 2015

5 Ways Paula Abdul Could Have Extended Her Music Career

After releasing the single “Ain't Never Gonna Give You Up” in 1996, Paula Abdul changed her focus to a career in television. She returned to the pop scene in 2008’s “Dance Like There’s No Tomorrow” with American Idol Judge Randy Jackson followed by the 2009 single, “I’m Just Here For The Music.”

Paula has reported that she’s been working on a new album of material since 1997 when she was signed to Mercury Records. In 1998, The Island/Def Jam Music Group acquired Mercury Records and dropped several artists from their roster including Paula before she completed her album. Eighteen years later, Paula isn't signed to a label, and a new album still hasn't materialized.


I've been a fan of Paula Abdul's for many years now.  Often, I can't help but think about what "could-have-been" when it comes to the future of her music career.  As you already know, Paula had 2 mega-successful albums "Forever Your Girl" and "Spellbound" with a platinum remix album "Shut Up and Dance" (it alone sold over 5 million copies) released in-between.  Things were moving right along.

SPELLBOUND

In 1991 Paula had switched management and suffered a very public lawsuit during the launch of her "Spellbound" album.  She was also planning a worldwide tour and dating Emilio Estevez. That's around the time when decisions were made that started the collapse of her music career.

Rush, Rush was the first single from "Spellbound" followed by the hugely successful dance track "The Promise of a New Day." In my opinion, the mistake was made with single #3 when Paula's management and Virgin Records decided to release another ballad, "Blowing Kisses in the Wind" instead of a proven dance track like "Vibeology."

"Blowing Kisses in the Wind" was a popular hit for Paula, peaking at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and at #4 in Canada. I know she loved the song the minute Peter Lord played it for her on the piano.  It's a great song, don't get me wrong.  My problem with the "Spellbound" album is that Paula chose to release more ballads than dance songs, which she was already known for.

The up-tempo funky song titled "Vibeology" was released as the fourth single from the Spellbound album. It reached number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Abdul's first single not to make the Top 10 in the U.S. since the original release of "(It's Just) The Way That You Love Me" in 1988. I think it would have charted higher if it had been released as the 3rd single after "The Promise of a New Day."


The "Vibeology" music video was directed by Stephen Wurnitzer who took one of Paula's most creative songs and murdered it visually. Paula's live MTV Music Awards performance of the song received negative reviews as her outfit garnered more attention than her performance or the song. The remixes were also hit-and-miss for such a clever song.  Nevertheless, "Vibeology" still achieved considerable chart success, especially in the club charts where the single became a huge smash hit for Paula.


If "Vibeology" had been released as single # 3 and had a better music video created to promote it... possibly more along the lines of Paula's performance on tour, I think the song would have charted much higher.  And in case you were wondering, after "Vibeology", Paula released another ballad, "Will You Marry Me?"

"IF IT'S NOT BROKE, DON'T FIX IT"

For the "Spellbound" album Paula completely disregarded the songwriters and producers that helped her create the über-successful "Forever Your Girl" album that sold over 12 million copies worldwide.

Paula should have ripped a page out of Kylie Minogue's playbook and stuck with the same songwriters and producers for her second album, then maybe she would have had even more hit singles, before switching things up and moving on to a new album with entirely new producers.

I know that part of the reasoning behind the switch is Paula's manager was also managing "The Family Stand" and wanted to make sure his clients had work... A move that in my opinion is bittersweet because I love the "Spellbound" album and "Vibeology" is my favorite Paula Abdul song... but if she had continued with Elliot Wolff and Oliver Leiber for album two, I think it would have only helped her music career out even more.

Give the audience what they want before you change it up.  It would have been easier for Paula to sell new singles with the same formula on a second album.  There was at least another album or two with Wolff/Leiber that Virgin Records could have capitalized on before "Spellbound."  The success of the "Shut Up and Dance" remix album released between the two studio albums clearly states that there was a marketplace for it.  Also, no remix album for "Spellbound"? What's up with that? Yet another missed opportunity.

BEND TIME

In 1992 “Bend Time Back Around” was recorded and meant to be the lead single off Paula’s then-untitled 3rd studio album. (Her 3rd album was released in 1995 and titled “Head Over Heels.”) Paula’s management insisted "Bend Time" be included on "Beverly Hills 90210: The Soundtrack" instead.

The song was permitted to be included on the 90210 Soundtrack with the understanding that it would be released as the first single from the soundtrack, but due to management issues within the record label, "Saving Forever for You" by Shanice was released as the first single instead. So a smash-hit, brand new unreleased song was basically hidden on a soundtrack album and went unnoticed.


“Bend Time Back Around” had the potential to be Paula's 7th #1 hit single. In my opinion, not releasing this song as a single was one of THE BIGGEST mistakes in her music career.  It was a perfect transition from "Spellbound" to a third album, would have kept Paula on the radio and fresh in the public's mind... and sold thousands upon thousands of records.

After her world tour and marriage to Emilio, Paula checked into a clinic to fight bulimia, then subsequently divorced Emilio and her follow-up album was delayed until 1994/95.

IT'S ALL ABOUT FEELING GOOD

Paula released her third studio album on June 13th, 1995, titled “Head Over Heels,” and it featured a more mature sound. The new album strikingly builds on Paula’s distinctive mix of pop, funk, R&B and ballads. “My Love Is For Real,” the first single from the album, merges a heavy funk groove with Middle Eastern stylings and guest vocals by Israeli singer Ofra Haza.

The single did not live up to expectations of being a big comeback hit for Abdul. It was Paula's first single to not reach the Top 20 and was considered the last major hit in her career with Virgin Records.  The song peaked at #28 on the Billboard Hot 100 and did end up becoming a success in clubs with several remixes commissioned, even hitting #1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart.

"My Love Is For Real" was Abdul's first single in over 3 years. "Will You Marry Me" released in March 1992.  After her tour and marriage, Paula dropped out of the spotlight and the music landscape changed with Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise", Shaggy's "Boombastic", U2's "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me" and Michael Jackson's "You Are Not Alone" all topping the charts in 1995.


"My Love Is For Real" wasn't a good lead-single choice to compete with other songs of the day, and lack of promotion caused the album to stall.  It charted well because it was the first single, and an album's first single almost always gets the most attention.  In my opinion, "Crazy Cool" would have been a better choice as the first single. Virgin released "Crazy Cool" as the second single later that year.

Unfortunately the song failed to make the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 (only reaching #58), but proved to be a success in clubs, becoming a hit on the dance charts. The single also found significant success in Canada where it peaked at #16 and remained on the charts for 15 weeks.  It stalled due to a (at the time) controversial music video, lack of radio airplay and virtually no promotion from Virgin.


I think releasing "Crazy Cool" first would have been a better fit for the music marketplace at the time and that it would have performed better than it did because first singles get the most attention and it's more dance-oriented than its predecessor.  The song was catchier, had charisma and better fit the sound of the time.  Using that single for the album's launch, I think it would have performed better.


The true single should have been "Crazy Love" which was the real stand-out song on the album, but unfortunately it was only released as a bonus track on the Japanese import of the "Head Over Heels" album.  The song wasn't actually released stateside until it was included on 2000's "Paula Abdul's Greatest Hits" album.

The "Head Over Heels" album faded after the quick release of "Ain't Never Gonna Give You Up" in 1996 and Abdul dropped out of the music scene until 2008's "Dance Like There's No Tomorrow" with Randy Jackson.  That song was a hit for Paula and topped the official iTunes Top 100 Videos chart. The song peaked at #2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart and peaked at #48 on the U.S. Billboard Pop 100 chart.  Paula was once again set up for success on the charts and once again Paula started talking about a tour and new album.

BOOMBOX

As a result of the success from “Dance Like There’s No Tomorrow,” Paula released her next single, “I’m Just Here For The Music.” The song was originally an unreleased track recorded during sessions for Kylie Minogue's ninth studio album "Body Language".

Another discarded song Kylie recorded during this time titled “Boombox”, was also recorded by Abdul and was intended to be the follow-up single to “Dance Like There’s No Tomorrow”.


Kylie’s version leaked online in 2008 and garnered such rave reviews from fans that Kylie performed a snippet of the song mixed with her hit "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" during her X 2008 World Tour.


"Boombox" was instead used on "Paula Abdul's Rah! Cheerleading Bowl" show on MTV, and Abdul’s version of "Boombox" remains unreleased to this day.  In 2009, her official web site promised fans that signed up for a paid membership to her fan club a free download of the song, though it never materialized, much to her fans’ disappointment. Radio DJ’s John Jay and Rich were very supportive of the song being released as a single and even played an extended clip of it on their popular syndicated radio show.


After Minogue used a remix of “Boombox” on her remix album of the same name, Abdul scrapped the commercial release of “Boombox” in favor of “I’m Just Here for the Music”.  Fans were really excited and there was a lot of momentum for Paula releasing "Boombox" when suddenly out of nowhere she dropped “I’m Just Here for the Music”. A song that wasn't bad - it was great - but Oliver Leiber cooked up a massive hit song for Paula with his production of "Boombox" and sadly it was never released.

CONCLUSION

I've been a fan of Paula's music for a very long time.  Over the years I've contemplated why she stopped doing music and what could have been done to provide her music career with longevity.  I'm not offering these opinions to be negative or overly critical of Paula.  These are things I would have done differently if I was managing her or working at the label during her reign.

It's been 18 years since Paula first announced she was working on a new album.  Elvis Presley and Beatles fans will never get a new album from their favorite artist.  Paula Abdul is alive and has at least 30 songs recorded/written/demo'd. A lot of us have been waiting patiently enjoying what morsels of music Paula has thrown our way since her "return" to music in 2008.  While it's sad that more music hasn't been released in the last decade, I can't help but wonder, if one or all of the points above would have helped extend Paula's music career.

What do you think?

April 29, 2014

Paula-Abdul.net Has Relaunched!

Dear Fans and Friends,

I am pleased to announce the launch of the brand new, redesigned Paula-Abdul.net.  This launch culminates my vision of a building a comprehensive Paula Abdul web site that was built by the fans, for the fans.

Paula-Abdul.net continues to this day and, for the last 17 years, to be the largest Paula Abdul web site on the Internet.

I started building my Paula Abdul web site in 1997 because I didn’t like having to visit multiple web sites to get current information on Paula’s various projects. Based on a bet from my brother that I would never learn HTML, I picked up a book and used my love of Paula Abdul’s music as my inspiration for learning how to build a web site. I figured if I could indirectly help create more interest in Paula Abdul and her music, and thereby help sell more records, she may be able to release more music which I enjoy.

Flash forward two years and in the fall of 1999 I received a call from Keith Lewis (Music Producer on “Cardio Dance” and Paula’s unreleased song “Karma” - the theme song for “Hey Paula.”) Keith was helping Paula establish her presence on the World Wide Web in preparation for the launch of a new album and wanted to use my domain name for her official site that was being built at the time, by McCartney Multimedia.  For my cooperation it was agreed that I could be the official fan site and would have a link to my web site placed on Paula’s site once it was completed.

A year later, Paula’s official site never materialized, and neither did her new album.  Shortly thereafter, Kylie Minogue recorded “Spinning Around,” a #1 mega-hit song co-written by Paula and based on this had caught the attention of producers who were casting “American Idol” in the United States where she would be a judge from 2002-2009.

Over the years Paula has launched several incarnations of her official web site, built by various organizations.  In 2009 Paula had launched a paid fan club through her site, which promised fans that joined a free copy of her unreleased song “Boombox.” This never materialized and the fan club was discontinued. Paula’s official site today is just a doorway to Paula’s social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter and provides little-to-no information about her career.

Through my work on Paula-Abdul.net I have met several people associated with Paula Abdul, including Paula herself.



In 2004 I met Paula Abdul at a Toys R Us event in New York.  Paula knew exactly who I was from my work on the web site.  After the event, she took me with her in her limo to NBC where we went backstage at Late Night with Conan O’Brian.  I met Paula again at an event in New Mexico and again in 2008 when she was filming her live performance of “Dance Like There’s No Tomorrow.”

       

Through the site I’ve had the pleasure of exchanging emails with dancer Bill Bohl, Bruce Deshazer’s son (from The Wild Pair), Dana Giordano (Co Dance), producer Keith Lewis, Paula’s manager, multiple contacts at VH1, MTV, Viacom among others.

I’ve become good friends with Paula’s songwriter and producer Elliot Wolff (“Straight Up”, “Cold Hearted”) and singer/songwriter Stacey Piersa (“Didn’t I Say I Love You”) and have visited them both many times. They are frequent songwriting collaborators. In fact, they both attended my wedding in 2005.  I also built Elliot’s web site (its several years old now and is being updated).

Elliot introduced me to songwriter/producer Oliver Leiber (“Forever Your Girl”, “Opposites Attract”) and we all had dinner together in Beverly Hills.  I ran into Oliver again in Los Angeles on the set of Paula’s live performance of “Dance Like There’s No Tomorrow”.

Stacey introduced me to singer/actress Monalisa Young (pictured right) and I had the opportunity to build a web site for her.  You can hear Mona in the background on Paula Abdul’s songs “Bend Time Back Around” and “Ho Down” among others. Over the years Mona and her family have become like family to me. In fact, my family and I visited Mona and her husband earlier this year.

Through my experiences with Elliot and Stacey I was also able to meet several notable musicians including jazz extraordinaire Dave Koz, Tony Maiden from Rufus (who toured with Paula), Praful and Kátia MoraesClick Here to see photos.

I’ve also met several of Paula’s fans over the years, many of whom I still stay in touch with today.

I took a break from my Paula Abdul site in 2006 to get married and start a family.  I now have two daughters (4 and 6 yrs old) who also love Paula and want to meet her someday.

After an extended absence I’ve returned to my favorite pastime – connecting with fellow fans and updating my Paula Abdul web site where over the years I’ve tried to be a positive, trustworthy ambassador of the Paula Abdul brand.

I wanted to take time to explain my lack of updates to the site, and personally thank those of you who have been supporters of my web site from the beginning - for your loyalty to my web site and encouragement throughout the years.

I hope you enjoy the new and improved web site! Check it out now: www.Paula-Abdul.net

 - Dustin

Kylie Minogue Kiss Me Once Album Review

Kiss Me Once is the 12th studio album by Australian recording artist Kylie Minogue. It was released March 18 2014, and is her first studio album release since Aphrodite (2010), and first album under the management of Jay Z's Roc Nation.

The first song and first single "Into the Blue" was written by Kelly Sheehan, Mike Del Rio and Jacob Kasher. The song incorporates instrumentation from strings, guitars and synthesizers; as well as being generalized as part of the electronic dance music genre.

If you know anything about my critiques of music, you’ll know that I believe the first single released is the most important release of an album so it’s very important for the record label to get the first single right.  As with most of Kylie’s singles – the label once again picked the wrong song to use as the first single for the album.
Parlophone had it right with “Spinning Around” as the first single from the “Light Years” album and “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” from her “Fever” album but since then they have struggled to pick a universally catchy song to use for the first single for each of the next 4 albums, including “Kiss Me Once”.

To promote “Kiss Me Once” Parlophone and Kylie decided to release “Into the Blue” as the first single.  I see what they were doing by using the song as the first single, although I think that was a mistake.  I think the label thought it was the most universally appealing song – something that new and old fans would like – and I think they were trying to play it safe with the single.  It just wasn’t catchy enough. In fact, I think the song is a little bit depressing to listen to. If I was at the label, I would have selected Million Miles, Sexy Love or Les Sex as the first single from the album.  You have to make a statement with the first single - it usually gets the most publicity of any single from the album.

Click Here to watch the video on YouTube

To promote the single, Kylie released a creative lyric video which was brilliant and matched my own vision for the song.  The official music video has absolutely nothing relevant to do with the song at all- Kylie walking around outside and rolling around in bed with a French actor. Uninspiring.  Boring.  Again, at least the lyric video had more of a theme to it.

Click Here to watch the video on YouTube

Into the Blue is not Kylie’s best but it’s not her worst.  It was not single material.  The video was boring.  The remixes were not worthy of buying.  The b-side “Sparks” – was creative but also not single-worthy.

Sexercise was released as the second single from the album.  Sexercise is a great song.  Brilliant – the production on it is amazing.  I love the instrumentation on this...  I mean this was meant to be a club song... strip club song... in your bedroom getting’ freaky kinda song.  But I love the almost way Kylie raps in the song – the lyrics –Sia is an excellent producer – I mean the way they did Kylie’s vocals and the beats and instruments they used – this is a tight song – this is something I would have expected Britney to do.  It’s an updated “Give It To Me” moment from the “Fever” album ... the song has amazing remix potential.

Click Here to watch the video on YouTube

With that said, you’re probably not going to understand my next statement.  I don’t understand Sexercise as a second single.  I understand the “exercise” niche that Sexercise fills and the controversy of the video which I could care less for, but I think the single choices are a poor representation of the goodness of this album.  Honestly.  Now don’t get me wrong – because I love love love Sexercise – I’m speaking purely from a commercial radio – commercial audience standpoint.

“Sexy Love” is more pop friendly – and would reach a wider audience.  I could probably pass off “Sexy Love” and let the kids hear it and be ok with that playing on the radio – but Sexercise – no way I can play that for my kids who love love Kylie – and if I heard it on the radio I would have to switch it off with them in the car... I just don’t think that was the way to go for her.

“Sexy Love” is hands down my favorite song on the album.  I got a copy of the album for my Aunt and straight away when we compared notes – this was her favorite song too – and she’s 50 now.  So if young guys like us and a 50 yr old woman like it what does that tell you?  Obviously it has universal appeal... so it should have been a single.  I can already see the choreography for the dance moves to this song in my head- and is it just me or does it remind you a little bit of Love At First Sight too?  It’s so bouncy and upbeat.  Most played song on the album right here.  I would have paid the full price of the album just for this song.  The instrumentation is absolutely brilliant.

“Million Miles” is such an amazing song – I love the instrumentation – the song has meat to it.  The lyrics make sense – I love how Kylie says “million—milllll-ion miles away”  - this was the most listened to song on the SoundCloud preview – what does that tell you?  Sexy Love and Les Sex and Sexercise had a ton of plays too.  This song definitely gets an A+ in my book and is one of my favorites on the album.  I just love listening to it – the chorus is great and it’s a perfect fit for Kylie.

“I Was Gonna Cancel” – (the 3rd single, just announced) has a cute back-story about Kylie’s breakdown in the studio and almost cancelling on Pharrell who then wrote the song on the spot.

Click Here to watch the video on YouTube

Honestly this is the only track on the album I have a problem with – it’s such an annoying song – the melody – the instruments – just annoy me.  Pharrell is creative – I love what he did with Daft Punk but this song is not my favorite and honestly I skip it now.  I could live without it – but it’s still not as boring or unimaginative as “Slow” from the “Body Language” album.  I wonder if they picked this song as the 3rd single strictly because of Pharrell (or if his contract stated that his song had to be a single if he was involved with the album).

“Feels So Good” – It’s a slower song but it’s still good and I don’t mind listening to it.  The lyrics and music are both good.  A good filler track.

“If Only” – Another gem on the album.  I like the intro – the producer tries for a second to make you think the song is going in one direction and then takes the music in another way – I like the instrumentation – the lyrics are great – and I’m betting “Two hearts, wanna left to be lonely, if only”... watch this song get blended and remixed with “2 Hearts” from “X” – I bet Steve Anderson will catch that.  Anyway I like this one a lot. I think it has some potential to be remixed too.

“Les Sex” – sorry but I have to say it- this song is the “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” moment on the album.  It truly is.  It should be, has to be a single.  Kylie must know this as she performed it live the first time she performed “Into the Blue” live.  Instant hit in France – we know this for sure.  I think it would do well in the US.  I could totally hear it on the radio and the music video – I’m channeling something along the lines of Kylie’s “Sensitized” performance from her TV special where she performed the songs from X meets the commercial she did for Agent Provocateur.  And remixes – helloooo – I think they would be amazing... kick ass.  The lyrics on this song are brilliant.

“Kiss Me Once” is a standout track too – if it was a single I wouldn’t be bothered by it.   It’s kinda an anthem song.  I like it.  I enjoy the song – I like the lyrics and the instrumentation.  If they remixed the song there would be potential for something good.  It may be just a little too slow for me – but I like it a lot.  Kinda reminds me of “All The Lovers” only better.  Oh I could hear a Kiss Me Once/All The Lovers mash-up coming on in my head.  I hope Steve Anderson is getting this – I’m trying to telepathically send it to him – these are great ideas right?

“Beautiful” – we already talked about this one. It is beautiful, great ballad.  I hear it will be a single for Enrique?  I think that’s a good idea.  Its worthy of a single if done right.

“Fine” – Wow.  Another brilliant moment on the album.  I love the lyrics. This could have been a single too.  I mean, it’s almost as slow and sappy as “Into the Blue”.  I like the male voice in the background – much like she tried to do with Into the Blue.  The lyrics to this song have a deep meaning – she sings it with convincing feeling, which I like.  I like the positive tone –“you’re gonna be fine”.  The production on this was really well done.  I would like a “Fine” remix.  It’s rare that a song as excellent as this is pushed to the end of the album but it’s a hell of the way to end the album.

“Mr. President” – Wow. I love the instrumentation.   Definitely “Fever” 2.0 here.  How can I complain?  I can’t.  I can’t!!!!  This song goes right along with the rest – and include “Skirt” and “Timebomb” with them too.  Kinda a dub step – Kylie’s version of a sexier more adult “Femme Fatale”.  I mean I could care less about “Mr President” for the lyrical content but I like the play on words – “I’ll be your Marilyn” – and the freakin’ instrumentation is so well done – I never get tired of listening to this.  Kylie really delivered!!!

“Sleeping with the Enemy” – I like this one – the lyrics are good – the song kinda is slow and a melodic way to end the album with the bonus tracks.  The lyrics are good and the music was put together really well.  I could totally hear Kylie singing it live – and man, she is so believable on this song.  She did a great job.

In closing, aside from the single choices, it’s hard to find any fault with the album.  I am speechless – no complaints here other than questionable single choices and poor music videos.  I was hoping for creative videos like the “Fever” album – but hey I’ll take an album of 14 hits over the videos.  I’m looking forward to the tour.  I hear Kylie will be in the U.S. in May.  Not sure what that’s all about but we shall see.  U.S. Tour dates have not been announced yet but I know she will be touring here this time around – she said she would.

I will say that, not helping Kylie – I went to both Walmart AND Target – 2 big box stores here in the U.S. and zip – zero – no copies of “Kiss Me Once”.  So it’s apparently an uphill battle for artists to sell music.  I was going to buy 2 copies of the album to give away to co-workers and friends and the stores weren't even selling it. Their web sites are selling them – but if I'm going to order the album online I might as well buy it on iTunes- so it makes no sense.  How is Kylie supposed to sell records if you can’t even find them in stores? Not everyone wants to download the album. I did of course, on iTunes but I also like to have a physical copy in my collection – and copies to give away.


Buy "Kiss Me Once" on Amazon or iTunes.

April 17, 2013

K25 Year In Review - Celebration of Kylie Minogue's 25 Years In The Music Business


In 2012, Kylie Minogue began a ground-breaking year-long celebration for her 25 years in the music industry, known as "K25".

Each month throughout the year Kylie released mini “gifts” to her fans through her web site as a way of thanking them for their support. Each month fans would go to Twitter and “tweet” a phrase to “unlock” a gift on Kylie’s web site.

To kick-start celebrations for her 25th year in music, on January 25th Kylie released a specially recorded acoustic version of ‘Finer Feelings’ (Recorded at Abbey Road) to her fans via Kylie.com.



Jan 25th 2012 - Kylie.com re-design launches.

In February, fans unlock a video of Kylie performing ‘On A Night Like This’ (Recorded at Abbey Road)



Feb 9th – It is announced that Kylie will be a performer at the Sydney Mardi Gras in Australia.
 

In March, fans unlock a video of Kylie singing ‘I Don’t Need Anyone’ (Anti Tour rehearsal footage)



March 5th – Tickets for the AU Anti-Tour shows go on sale. “Anti Tour” is a small intimate concert that featured b-sides, demos and rarities from Kylie’s music catalog. Kylie only performed 7 shows in AU and the UK for “Anti Tour”.

March 7th – Tickets for the AU Anti-Tour shows are sold out. At the time it is unknown if additional shows would be added or if Kylie would be performing in the US. No additional shows were added and there were no US Anti Tour shows. 

The opening show in Melbourne was filmed and a DVD release was mentioned in various publications as being on the itinerary for K25 in 2012 but the idea was ultimately scrapped later in the year when Parlophone/EMI Records was absorbed by Universal Music Group.

March 18th – Kylie performs the first night of the Anti-Tour shows in Melbourne.



March 25th – Kylie performs on a float at the Sydney Mardi Gras.



March 25th – UK Anti Tour Shows are announced. Kylie will have performed a total of 7 Anti Tour shows in Australia and the United Kingdom.

March 26th - Lord Mayor Clover Moore MP announces that Kylie Minogue has been appointed the City’s Creative Ambassador for the 2012 Sydney New Year’s Eve event.

In April, fans unlocked a video of Kylie performing “Cherry Bomb” from Anti Tour.



April 20th – Kylie stars in an independent film called Jack & Diane which opens today at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival.

April 28th – It is announced that Kylie is to headline the BBC Proms in the Park on September 8th in Hyde Park.

May 4th – EMI Catalogue announces they will release ‘The Best of Kylie Minogue’ on June 4th. The album features 21 of the best known Kylie songs from her incredible 25-year career, on one and two disc sets with music videos.



May 14 - The French film, Holy Motors, which Kylie has a starring role, is shown at the Cannes Film Festival.

May 25th - After 25,000 tweets, fans unlocked the music video for Kylie’s new single titled “Timebomb” to the delight of fans worldwide.



May 26 – Kylie performs “Timebomb” live on The Voice UK.



In June, fans unlocked a video of Kylie’s live performance at the Sydney Mardi Gras in February.



June 1st - On behalf of the Official Charts Company Alan Carr presented Kylie with seven Official Number 1 Awards to mark her seven UK number 1 singles, at her appearance on the Chatty Man TV show.

June 25th – The limited edition physical CD of Timebomb goes on sale for pre-order.
June 26th - Kylie was the special guest at the Day Party at Pier 83 in New York City on the weekend.

Kylie performed at The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert on 4 June 2012.



In July, Kylie's team released a "Locomotion 2012" celebration video as a K25 gift to fans.



July 6th – Kylie announces she is working on a book about her Career in Fashion to be released later in the year.

July 16th – Timebomb remixes are available for purchase online.

July 27th – Kylie introduces a new fragrance called “Music Box”.



July 27 - Warner Music Australia announces it is producing a unique collector’s item, the ‘K25 Time Capsule’ that will be released late October 2012. The K25 Time Capsule will feature 25 collectible mini discs featuring all of the amazing hits from Kylie’s 25 years in the music industry since the release of Locomotion.



In August, Beat The Intro app/Tightrope Anti-Tour performance video - a Kylie app which is available in the App store now and a never before seen footage from the Anti Tour in Melbourne!



Aug 3rd- Kylie has set a personal record this week, scoring her 6th consecutive #1 single on Billboard’s Hot Club Play Chart with the song “Timebomb”, bringing her career total to nine.

Aug 7 – Kylie’s Timebomb VEVO clip reaches 10 MILLION views

Aug 8 – Preorder for Kylie’s 2013 calendar available.

Aug 14 – “My Year As Aphrodite” premieres on Sky Living at 10pm on Tuesday 14 August 2012. Join Kylie backstage and on the road as she tours the world with her ground-breaking Aphrodite – Les Folies tour.



In September, Sept 5 – Abbey Road Sessions album release date announced.

Sept 24 Kylie releases the highly anticipated "Flower" as a single on iTunes with music video, filmed in Cornwall, England on 12 August 2012 in black and white. Flower was originally performed during Kylie's X2008 Tour as an unreleased track.



Sept 25 – Its announced that a limited edition Flower physical CD goes on-sale.

In October, Fans participated in Flower Lyric Video / Come Into My World Rehearsal video.

Oct 11th – Kylie appears at the NYC premiere of the French film, Holy Motors, which Kylie has a starring role.

Oct 29 – Release of The Abbey Road Sessions album contains reworked and orchestral versions of her previous songs from her musical catalog. The album was recorded at London's Abbey Road Studios and was produced by Steve Anderson and Colin Elliot. The album received favorable reviews from music critics and it debuted at number-two in the United Kingdom.





In November, BBC Proms in the Park rehearsal video of Slow from The Abbey Road Sessions



Nov 19 - Strictly Come Dancing Performance of Locomotion.



Nov 2 - Kylie performs on the first night of the Yasalam After-Race Concert in Abu Dhabi

Nov 29- Kylie releases “Kylie | Fashion” a comprehensive look at Kylie’s career in fashion.



November 2012, it’s announced that Kylie will play a lead role in the upcoming musical film titled Walking on Sunshine alongside Gemma Arterton.

In December, Kylie.com releases an Advent Calendar featuring different photos and video clips that get "unlocked" each day.



Dec 7th - Kylie Sing and Dance is released for the Nintendo Wii in the UK

12-22-12: Kylie and Jason Donovan duet Especially For You - Hit Factory Live concert in London as they presented their much-loved number-one duet. The duo was introduced by Pete Waterman one of the songwriters behind the song.



12-23-12: Bittersweet Goodbye (Anti Tour performance) video



12-31-12 Kylie welcomes 2013 as the Creative Ambassador at the 2012 Sydney New Year’s Eve event in Australia.

It was an exciting year.  My two favorite events were of course the Anti Tour which I am still hopeful will get a proper DVD release (since I wasn't able to go), and the release of Timebomb.  

I applaud Kylie and her team for doing something unique for the fans to celebrate her 25 years in the music business.  I only wish more celebrities would follow in Kylie's footsteps and do something like this to support their fan-bases as well.

And that wraps up 2012's K25 Celebration of Kylie Minogue's 25 years in the music business.

And what will 2013 bring?  It's been announced that a new album is in the works and Kylie has signed to a new management company after parting ways with Terry Blamey.  What remains to be seen is whether the new album will be a Fever (Pt 2) or a Body Language (Pt 2).  I'm hoping the new album echo's Fever more than Body Language!

Stay tuned! 

   

July 13, 2011

Enigma 8 Music Wishlist - How I Would Fix Enigma


You may be wondering... "What Is Enigma?"

Enigma is a musical project founded in Germany by Michael Cretu, David Fairstein and Frank Peterson in 1990. Cretu is both the composer and the producer of the project. His former wife Sandra often provided vocals on Enigma tracks. Jens Gad co-arranged and played guitar on three of the Enigma albums. Peter Cornelius also contributed to Enigma during the 1990s.

In December 1990, after eight months of preparation, Cretu released Enigma's debut album, "MCMXC a.D.", which received over 60 platinum-level sales awards worldwide,
and topped the charts in 41 countries, becoming the most successful Virgin records act of those times. Although from the late 1970s onward, Michael Cretu already had his own music career on his hands and apart from some collaboration efforts with several other musicians, the album was Cretu's first commercial success through the single "Sadeness (Part I)," which juxtaposed Gregorian chants and sexual overtones over a dance beat that was highly peculiar to the ears of the public at that time.

Before the album was released, Cretu was cautious of the response towards the upcoming album, decided to forgo mentioning his and most of the personnel's real name and credited himself as Curly M.C., while the album sleeve contained little information about the background of the project, furthering the mystery about the creators of the album and leading to speculation whether Enigma was a band, a person or a group.

Enigma means "mystery" and when the album debuted no one knew who the people were behind the album. Their true identities were not exposed until a crop of lawsuits surfaced regarding samples used on the albums "MCMXC a.D." and "The Cross of Changes".

Michael Cretu in his home recording studio in Ibiza, Spain.Enigma's music is best described as "mood" music although most people today regard this style of music as "New Age". If you're looking for music that is calming, thought provoking, peaceful, reflective, spiritual, stylish, maybe a little sensual, and definitely enigmatic laid on bed of electronic sounding club and dance beats- Enigma is worth a listen. Enigma's success is no fluke event. Cretu has stated that he wanted to blend mainstream pop music with ethnic / worldly tones and that he knew the result, if successful, would prove that music is language of the world.

Worldwide statistics for Enigma’s debut album, its equally popular preceding single, the Gregorian chant-driven ‘Sadeness (Part One)’, plus subsequent albums The Cross Of Changes (1993), Le Roi Est Mort, Vive Le Roi! (1996), and The Screen Behind The Mirror (2000), are truly staggering: more than 50 number one chart positions and 85 platinum awards! 100 million album sales down the line (and counting), is it any wonder that Enigma is the most successful German pop music project ever?

Enigma's first two studio albums also led to the creation and popularity of bands and musical groups that follow similar styles. MCMXC a.D. was named as one of the most important and influential album of mainstream New Age music. The album not only popularized the "Enigmatic" music style but also introduced some technical changes in music production. With MCMXC a.D., Michael Cretu developed the technical features and intentions of sampling. Though samples were in use long before, Cretu built his own music around whole sequences of previously recorded parts.

Enigma and Deep Forest are also to be considered by many to have brought the tribal chant genre to the ears of the public and are responsible for the term "new age" in the mainstream public's consciousness circa 1990 and beyond.

Delerium's "Karma" album and Jen's Gad's "Achillea" and "Enigmatic Obsession" albums also reference the work of Engima.

MCMXC a.D. album cover1 "MCMXC a.D." MCMXC, A.D. - Enigma

I was introduced to the sounds of Enigma nearly two decades ago (in 1990) when my mother first brought home the album "MCMXC a.D.", put the CD into our living room stereo surround-sound system and BLASTED the album through our entire house.

I remember my mom would play the album over and over and I fell in love with the album the moment I first heard it. I had never heard Gregorian chanting, or a Frenchwoman seductively whispering before. There was something magical about that piece of music; something relaxing, yet stimulating. At the ripe age of 11, I had never heard anything like it before but I was definitely captivated by it as was the rest of the world.

Aside from loving the singles "Principles Of Lust", " Mea Culpa" and "Sadeness", I'm also crazy about "Callas Went Away" and "Knocking On Forbidden Doors". I like the birds in the background on "Callas Went Away". You can hear horses walking, its a slower song, yet it still retains sensuality and mystery and the beat is hypnotic... and when the synth plays
parts of "Sadeness" you'll instantly see why I love this song.

"Knocking On Forbidden Doors" is very mysterious and makes full advantage of stereo sound fading in and out from left-to-right. The instruments are so creatively used that it actually sounds like they are "knocking" on doors. Laid over a highly addictive beat, the Gregorian chants appear half-way through the song and it slows down, then picks back up; you don't know what to expect... then "knock knock knock" ... to me this is one of the best songs on the album!


Music video for the hit single "Sadeness (Part 1)" from the album "MCMXC a.D."

The Cross of Changes album cover2 "THE CROSS OF CHANGES" The Cross of Changes 2 - Enigma

In 1993, Cretu was given an offer by producers to compose the full soundtrack of the motion picture Sliver, but he was unable to accept the offer due to his unique style of
music production and the amount of time it takes to create an album didn't line up with the production of the motion picture.

Instead, he came up with "Carly's Song" ("Age of Loneliness" in the album and video releases) and "Carly's Loneliness," which were used in the movie and credited in the motion picture soundtrack as well.

By the time Enigma's second album was released my mother had moved on. She
played NuShooz, Technotronic, Fleetwood Mac... and I had moved on too... to Weird Al
and Paula Abdul. My mother was also responsible for my introduction to Paula Abdul
which is a story for another day.

I remember in 1993 Taco Bell ran a promotion giving away a compilation CD titled "Do Something" and it was available in a variety of genres for free with any food purchase. One of the songs on the compilation was "The Return to Innocence", which I had no idea at the time was by Enigma.


I remember being disappointed that my local Taco Bell location had run out of supplies so I never did get a copy of "Do Something", but I always remembered "The Return to Innocence" and after hearing the song on the radio I eventually put two and two together and knew who was responsible for it.


Music video for the hit single "Return to Innocence" from "The Cross of Changes"

I had the MCMXC a.D. album on cassette tape but aside from it, that was the end of the Enigma experience for me until 1998. I had moved out of state to live with my Father in another part of the country and I only owned E1 on cassette as a kid. I eventually moved back home with my mother and moved out on my own in 1998. After successfully getting established and setup on my own I set out to start my own music collections... and of course that involved reconnecting with Enigma.

My favorite song on the album is "The Eyes Of Truth" which is 7:15 in length and really allows you to absorb yourself in the music. The song featured samples of Mongolian Folk Music plus the classic Enigma flute and dance beats. In 1999, the song was popularized from its artistic use in the worldwide trailer for the motion picture "The Matrix".

I believe the common theme of "The Cross of Changes" is evolution.

Le Roi est mort, vive le Roi! album cover3 "LE ROI EST MORT, VIVE LE ROI!" Le Roi est mort, vive le Roi ! - Enigma

In 1998 Enigma's third album "Le Roi est mort, vive le Roi!" had already been released for two years, but I went to a local store a bought a copy after previously buying E1 and E2 on CD for my collection as well. (Le Roi est mort, vive le Roi! is French for "The King is dead. Long live the King.")

I'll admit it... E3 was not my favorite Enigma album at the time which probably comes as a shock to most hardcore fans who often refer to E3 as the defining moment in Enigma history. I'm not a fan who thinks he has to like everything an artist records simply because I'm a fan of the artist. I like the story in the album, embracing "The Child" in us. The music flows beautifully but I initially didn't "get it" and songs like "T.N.T. For The Brain" and "Beyond The Invisible" were way beyond me. It is a refreshing album to listen to, and is completely different from E1 and E2.

The album grew on me and I enjoy listening to it immensely now. It took me many years to embrace and understand E3 since it was such a departure from the first album, but now that I understand the creative masterpiece that it is, possibly because my ear for music has changed- I do understand why the album is loved so dearly by Enigma fans; I also understand why the album wasn't a commercial success. The songs were not broad enough in appear for the mass commercial market at that time; and the singles were not radio-friendly enough for mainstream media.

My favorite songs on the album are "Shadows In Silence" and "Almost Full Moon". I also like "The Roundabout" and "Why!". "Morphing Thru Time" is actually a pretty cool song too and Cretu sings in this track as well. The b-side to the "Beyond the Invisible" single called "Light of Your Smile" is an incredible song as well. Perfect for reflection.

Two singles were released from the album: "Beyond the Invisible" and "T.N.T. for the Brain". A planned third single, "The Roundabout" was scrapped at the last minute for unclear reasons, even though a remix had already been created by DJ Quicksilver which still remains unreleased.


Music video for "Beyond the Invisible"

This album continued Enigma's trend, giving it a slightly more modern, futuristic sound by combining the elements of Enigma's first album, MCMXC a.D., and their second album, The Cross of Changes. Michael Cretu, producer of the project, considered Le Roi est mort, vive le Roi! to be the child of the previous two albums, with the first being the father and the second being the mother, as indicated by the 19-second track, "Third of its Kind".

Le Roi est mort, vive le Roi! was nominated in the 1998 Grammy Awards for Best New Age Album and Johann Zambryski's album art design earned him a nomination for Best Recording Package. That's one thing Enigma is well known for- the artwork and packaging is always the best quality, although none has matched the three dimensional album cover from Le Roi est mort, vive le Roi!

The Screen Behind the Mirror album cover4 "THE SCREEN BEHIND THE MIRROR" The Screen Behind the Mirror - Enigma

I fell in love with Enigma all over again in 2000 when "The Screen Behind The Mirror" (E4) was released. The single "Gravity of Love" had massive commercial appeal, the music video that was filmed to promote the single was excellent and the remixes were excellent. Pure "new age" pop perfection. The album was crafted with the same care, in my opinion, as the first Enigma album. I think that's why E4 resonates so well with me.

The second single "Push The Limits" was also an amazing track with amazing remixes, although the music video fell short of my expectations, the music has always been what's most important to me. Everyone interprets the visuals of Enigma's sound differently; but Thomas Job's vision on the video for "Gravity of Love" was 100% right on. 100%!

"The Screen Behind The Mirror" is a perfect album in every way the first Enigma album was perfect. The album contained a meaningful story deeply woven in, the album used new and familiar sounds, it has the right amount of vocals, samples and world sounds. Parts of the album are upbeat and fast, parts are slower and cause you to reflect before picking back up again. The artwork was also incredible. Eleven years later E4 still sounds current, bold, fresh. Sampling Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana" on "Gravity of Love" was pure genius... and that summarizes E4 to me- a flash of genius.

As I listened to the Enigma albums over the years, as a child, a young adult and now as an adult the one thing that always mystified me was that most, not all, but most of the music on the Enigma albums were created by one man- Michael Cretu. "How does one man pull all of these beautiful sounds out of his head and create these masterpieces by himself?" That is one question that has plagued me for years. Listen to these albums with that in the back of your mind and you too will be amazed at the talent that this man possesses. We tend to take music for granted. Most albums have a dozen or more people who have contributed to its production- and on Enigma's albums its usually less than three or four people with the bulk of the work performed by Cretu himself.

Gravity of Love CD SingleI genuinely have a hard time picking songs I like on E4 since I love them all and together they are a masterpiece. If you were to remove any one song from E4 the album wouldn't be the same. The only other album I feel that way about is E1.

In addition to "Push The Limits" and "Gravity of Love", my other favorites are "Smell Of Desire", "Traces (Light & Weight)", "The Screen Behind The Mirror", "Endless Quest" and "Between Mind & Heart"... and seriously you should listen to "Camera Obscura" which has Cretu singing an upbeat anthem with a choir joining him adding further tension to the track... its an amazing listen!!!

The lyrics on "The Screen Behind The Mirror" album make sense and help the album come full circle. The last time I heard Enigma lyrics this well thought-out was on the very first Enigma album. Take a look at the lyrics to the two singles from the album:

Gravity Of Love

o Fortuna, velut Luna
o Fortuna, velut Luna

Turn around and smell what you don't see
Close your eyes … it is so clear

Here's the mirror, behind there is a screen
On both ways you can get in

Don't think twice before you listen to your heart
Follow the trace for a new start

What you need and everything you'll feel
Is just a question of the deal

In the eye of storm you'll see a lonely dove
The experience of survival holds the key to the gravity of love

o Fortuna, velut Luna

The path of excess leads to the tower of wisdom.
The path of excess leads to the tower of wisdom.

Try to think about it…
That's the chance to live your life and discover what it is
What's the gravity of love

o Fortuna, velut Luna

Look around, just people, can you hear their voice
Find the one who'll guide you to the limits of your choice

But if you're in the eye of storm, just think of the lonely dove
The experience of survival is the key to the gravity of love.

o Fortuna, velut Luna
o Fortuna, velut Luna
o Fortuna…


Push The Limits

Basic instincts, social life
Paradoxes side by side.


Don't submit to stupid rules
Be yourself and not a fool.

Don't accept average habits
Open your heart and push the limits.

Open your heart and push the limits.
Open your heart and push the limits.


One of the things I really like about E4 is that the lyrics are necessary but secondary to the music. The lyrics were well thought-out and planned, very intentional- but they don't overpower the music. The music is the forefront of "The Screen Behind The Mirror" album, and if I had to introduce someone to Enigma who had never heard any of the albums before- I would definitely recommend E1 and E4.

Promotional poster for L.S.D. Planetarium ShowL.S.D., Love Sensuality Devotion - The Greatest Hits - Enigma L.S.D. REMIXES Love Sensuality Devotion - The Remix Collection - Enigma

In October of 2001 Enigma celebrated the first four albums of Michael Cretu's musical project with Love Sensuality Devotion: The Greatest Hits, greatest hits album. I believe this release coincided with the renewal of Cretu's contract extension with Virgin/EMI to produce an additional four albums beginning in 2003 with Voyageur.

Most record labels decide to renew their artists contracts (or drop them from their roster) after a Greatest Hits compilation is released. I seem to remember there was a huge management shake up at Virgin/EMI and one of the Executives there happened to be a fan of Cretu / Enigma and he's the one responsible for extending Enigma's contract before he (the Executive) officially left Virgin/EMI. I can't remember his name, but I'd like to say "thank you".

A remix album titled "Love Sensuality Devotion: The Remix Collection" and the standard LSD package contained most of Enigma's singles and songs from 1990 to 2001.

The remix album takes 3 songs from the first album, MCMXC a.D., 4 songs from The Cross of Changes, 4 songs from Le Roi est mort, vive le Roi!, 5 songs from The Screen Behind the Mirror, and featured a new single "Turn Around" and an intro titled "The Landing".

A light show was held at the Munich Planetarium in conjunction of the release of the compilation albums. It was mentioned that other Planetarium's from around the world might also hold light shows to the sounds of Enigma, but this never materialized.

Turn Around CD SingleTURN AROUND (SINGLE)

I still remember when "Turn Around" was released to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Enigma. The song was included on the "Love Sensuality Devotion: The Greatest Hits" album accompanied by a longer remix on "Love Sensuality Devotion: The Remix Collection".


As a standalone single, "Turn Around" takes some of the best elements of the previous Enigma hits and blends them with electronica club beats.

Michael Cretu's voice is digitally altered to sound like a robot, and there is a woman quietly whispering the names of past Enigma song titles... the combination worked well and the extended remix was even more thrilling. A video was also filmed to compliment the Greatest Hits release.

After how successful I thought "The Screen Behind The Mirror" was, what a masterpiece that album turned out to be, "Turn Around" was like the icing on the cake for me and made me anticipate E5 that much more.

Voyageur album cover5 "VOYAGEUR" Voyageur - Enigma

In 2003 Enigma released "Voyageur" their fifth album. E5 was a departure from standard Enigma fare. The intro Enigma sound was cut short, and the signature shakuhachi flutes, Gregorian chants and tribal chants found on earlier albums were all but gone. As a fan it pains me to say this but E5 sounded like Cretu "phoned in" his performance since the "Voyageur" album contains no real storyline and the second half of the album is all over the place with no real direction. Additionally, with the exception of the first single also called "Voyageur" (which I love), the wrong singles were used to promote the album which contributed to the albums lackluster success.

Songs like "Total Eclipse Of The Moon" have no business on the album and offer no Enigma-ish contribution aside from pathetic lyrics and Cretu singing. The first five songs all fit a common sound theme, but once you get to "Total Eclipse Of The Moon" (aside from the brilliant song which is titled "Look Of Today", this voyage begins to drift off into the sunset never to return.


Music video for the single "Voyageur" from the Enigma album titled "Voyageur".

The singles released were "Voyageur", "Following the Sun" and "Boum-Boum". I really like "Boum-Boum" and think its a great song and I really appreciate what MC was doing on this song and I too thought it would be a good third single; however it almost didn't become a single after the massive "Following the Sun" flop. I remember there was a lot of uncertainty surrounding the release of the single and whether or not it was actually going to happen or not. Ultimately, Nebula Music released the single with Virgin Records which also contains the music video. In my opinion the video has absolutely nothing to do with the song, which was a disappointment because its such a good song.

I remember after the single for "Voyageur" was released an Enigma Fan Site, or Enigma's management had asked the fans to vote on what the next single off of "Voyageur" should be. The fans have had an affection for Ruth-Ann Boyle since E4 and elected to vote for song "Following the Sun". In my opinion this is the worst song on the album and I ALWAYS skip it. For me "The Piano" is the last song on the album, not "Following the Sun". The fans don't always know what is commercially appealing, and voted for what they loved (as to be expected) instead of what was actually going to commercially translate into more business for the record label, and Enigma.

Following the Sun CD SingleI would have released "The Look of Today" as a single in place of "Following the Sun", and here's why. It's Enigma with a Euro/electro/club sound to it. Michael's voice sounds mysterious and you can't stop listening. It's a new sound mixed with a familiar one and it works.

You know it's a hit when you can hear an endless stream of remixes to the song in the back of your mind... remixes that would have sold well on a CD/digital single release and helped bring Enigma back into the minds of mainstream conscience.

This song would have surely charted well on the Club charts and would have been played in clubs thereby exposing Enigma to a whole new generation of young people who have never heard of Enigma translating into new record sales. It was broad enough to also be played on mainstream radio. I think the lyrics are also thought-provoking and catchy.

The Look Of Today

I'll show you inside and you will see,
feel what just money can bring. Can you see?

That's the look,
that's the look,
that's the look of today.

You have a problem I could help,
Boum-Boum CD Singlebuy it and be yourself.
Cause you know, that's the look, that's the look, that's the look of today.

That's the look,
that's the look,
that's the look.

So many trends just fade away
Before you can wear it, it's passé. Can you see?

That's the look,
that's the look,
that's the look of today.

You are so stylish, you are so vain,
sometimes I think you have no brain.
But you know, that's the look,
that's the look, that's the look of today.

I think part of the problem is after the management shakeup at Virgin/EMI, I don't think the new crew put in place to promote the album knew how to properly promote Enigma or New Age music. I also don't think that Michael Cretu's lack of promotion helped any either so Virgin/EMI probably assumed since Cretu who is the artist- isn't going to promote, why should we?

15 Years After (Box Set) CoverHELLO & WELCOME (SINGLE) / 15 YEARS AFTER (BOX SET)

In 2005 Virgin Records released a "15 Years After" box-set containing 8 discs, 5 of them original studio albums created from 1990 to 2003, 2 DVDs and a bonus CD of Enigma's songs covered by Rollo Armstrong. The remixes by Rollo were a complete disappointment. They don't sound anything like Enigma. I'm not even sure what they are. A waste. They sucked even more because this is Enigma we're talking about; the name is synonymous with QUALITY and the remixes are absolute shit. I've never been so disappointed with a bonus CD before in my life as I was with the Rollo remixes. If it weren't for Cretu's real-life signature on the package and the inclusion of the song "Hello and Welcome" I would have demanded a refund.

For the fans, the notable reason for buying the boxset was that Michael Cretu personally visited the EMI factory in Uden, Netherlands to sign a thousand copies of the box set. The thousand signed copies had Cretu's initials ("MC") signed with a silver marker. I proudly have one of these in my collection.

Hello and Welcome CD SingleThe thing that most excited me about the "15 Years After" box-set was that it contained the highly-sought after, unreleased standalone single called "Hello & Welcome". To me, "Hello & Welcome" was going to be the BIG COMEBACK song for Enigma.

"Hello & Welcome" was intended to be the walk-in music for the German boxer, Felix Sturm of whom Cretu is a big fan. The single was to tie-in with Sturm's fight with Maselino Masoe for the WBA Championship title. But due to an injury that Sturm picked up just weeks before the fight, the single's release date was pushed further back until the day before Sturm's rescheduled match.

An incredible video was filmed to promote the song, however Virgin seemed to lose interest in promoting the song after Sturm was injured and the single had to initially be postponed. The single includes the music video and two similar remixes, "Thunderstorm Mix" and the "After The Storm Mix".

"Hello & Welcome" is one of my all-time favorite Enigma songs. I have to admit, I was a little taken back when it was announced that (E6) "A Posteriori" was space-oriented when "Hello and Welcome" was so perfect and would have fit better in a different musically styled Enigma album.


Music video for the single "Hello & Welcome"

6. A POSTERIORI A Posteriori - Enigma

A Posteriori album coverIn 2006 Enigma released "A Posteriori" (E6) which focused on the collision of the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies and had more of a space-like theme throughout the entire album. While not as misguided as the "Voyageur" album, its sound still did not resonate in my mind as a proper Enigma album. There was hardly any worldly influence or charm from the first album, and I prefer Enigma to blend cultural sounds with earthly sounds, not sounds from outer space.

E6 is cohesive and is worth listening to, although the "A Posteriori Private Lounge Remix" album is just as imaginative, if not more so than the "A Posteriori" album. You'll definitely want to listen to "The Alchemist [The Alchemist's Vision by Ralf Hildenbeutel]" remix off the Private Lounge album. There were no music videos to promote the album, and no physical single releases.

I remember seeing "Hello and Welcome" on the tracklist when E6 was first announced, and I thought to myself "how is that song going to fit into a space-theme?" It turns out that Cretu used the "After The Storm Mix" of "Hello and Welcome" on the "A Posteriori" album.

I was disappointed that "Goodbye Milky Way" wasn't released as a single on the album. Its one of the most original sounding and uses some unfamiliar sounds that resonate well. The lyrics are great and the music is simple and perfect. It was originally going to be the first single from "A Posteriori" but a month after the single was announced, it's release on CD and other formats was cancelled, except for digital download.

7. SEVEN LIVES MANY FACES Seven Lives Many Faces - Enigma

Seven Lives Many Faces album coverIn 2008 Enigma released "Seven Lives Many Faces". The first glimpse I had of E7 was a 60 second promo video on YouTube which was a little misleading... the video contains a sample of the track "La Puerta del Cielo" but omits Margarita Roig's vocals. Watch the video and then listen to the preview of the "La Puerta del Cielo".


Keep in mind this snippet was released before E7 and before "La Puerta del Cielo" was made available in its entirety. I was hoping the song would have gone more in the direction of the promo video since I really like that section of the La Puerta del Cielo (just my opinion); however I am just as pleased with the song the way it is on the album, but the actual musical instrumentation on that song is so amazing, I wish there was an extended version of it that had more of the instrumentation on it.


Margarita Roig did an OUTSTANDING JOB with the vocals. I was very surprised... and inspired. When I first heard her *with* the music I was blown away. A true compliment.



The first 2 singles on the album are "Seven Lives" and "La Puerta del Cielo." They were both released together as a double A-side CD single and the videos for each song use recycled scenes from previous Enigma videos: "Push the Limits" for "Seven lives" and "Age of Loneliness" for "La Puerta del Cielo". A third and final single was released digitally for "The Same Parents" with the music video taken from the DVD release that accompanied the album.

When your record label releases a double-A side as your lead single it's a pretty good indication that your label has no interest in promoting your album. Why would a record label release your two best songs on the same CD? They have no clue how to promote Enigma, or have given up, or don't care. I think Cretu knows Virgin/EMI has started to lose interest in Enigma which is why so much effort has cropped up recently (i.e. The Social Song, see below) to try and generate some new interest in the project.

E7 is really good. It's still not quite E1 or E4 in my book but its pretty close. There's no real storyline in "Seven Lives Many Faces" but the cultural influences are back. At first I didn't understand the dog panting in the song "Seven Lives" and it annoyed me but after so many times listening to the song it doesn't bother me so much anymore.


I was so impressed with "Seven Lives" and "La Puerta del Cielo" that I bought 5 copies of "Seven Lives Many Faces" when it was officially released and obviously kept one for myself and gave the others to friends and family- including my mother who introduced me to Enigma back in 1990. When I told her I was writing an article about Engima she mentioned how she really liked the album "Seven Lives Many Faces" and said she thought it was as good as if not better than E1.



Music video for the Enigma single "Seven Lives" from the album "Seven Lives Many Faces"


The opening song "Encounters" is one of the more amazing openings to an Enigma album. "Seven Lives" is a strong lead single... very hard hitting. "Touchness" is a nice reflection of " Sadeness" from the first Enigma album... I just wish it were longer than 3 minutes. I think that is one of the key ingredients of success on the first album which has been underutilized on every Enigma album since: the songs are long enough on the first album that you can totally get into it before the track is over... it doesn't start, climax and end in 3 minutes time... on E1 the first track, although divided into 3 sections is 11 minutes long and fades from song to song to song seamlessly. I thought "Touchness" was such a good song that it deserved to be a little longer. Other tracks on the album could have been omitted to pull this off while still keeping with the common theme of the album.

"The Same Parents" was great the first couple of times I listened to it but now I skip it. I like the premise of the track- "in the beginning we all had the same parents- we're all brothers and sisters- so why do we fight and go to war with each other?" I think the vocals on the song are rather annoying and out of place which is why I skip it even though I like what the song stands for and the instrumentation on the song is also great. I'm not sure what I would change about it... but the concept of the song is a good one and again I must emphasize that the instrumentation on the song is great. I also think it's neat that Michael allowed his son/s to help voice a part on the song.

"Fata Morgana (Instrumental)" could almost be a sister or cousin of "Touchness" but this song has a surprise element of hip-hop beats infused with a woman whispering "take me now" with a guitar playing... its one of the standout tracks on the album.

A lot of the fans didn't like the lyrics in "Distorted Love". Lyrics such as "Touch me... I'll be your daddy. Smell me... I'll be your mommy" just didn't make sense to them; and I think the song is genius. I mean, after all, isn't that what Enigma is about? Mystery... things that don't make sense? Fans that don't get the song are took it too literal, and as long as you do that you'll never be able to make sense of it.

"Je t'aime Till My Dying Day" is a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful love song. You'll definitely want to play this one at a wedding, or if you're having a romantic evening at home with a loved one, it's a perfect fit.

After listening to "Seven Lives Many Faces" several times now, you can tell that a lot of experimentation was blended together to make an album without telling a real story. The essence of a story is there; it's trying. I think the message of the album is "love".

To me, part of the success of the first album (E1) was the story; a story of love, religion, confliction; you can almost hear how delicately they crafted the story on the first album; whether intentional or unintentional there's only 7 tracks, two of which are 10+ minutes each. The longest track on "Seven Lives Many Faces" is "The Same Parents" at 5:20. This isn't to say that the album is bad because it has multiple short tracks, or that the attention to detail wasn't there, but E5 and E7 don't flow as well as E1, E2, E3 and E4.

The real star of the album "Seven Lives Many Faces" is Margarita Roig who steals the show on the song "La Puerta del Cielo", which is a song that's so good, I wish had been just a little longer. She also sings on the song "Between Generations" which is about a woman who wants to marry her daughter to an older man, but her daughter is already in love with a younger man. So the song addresses this dispute in Margarita Roig's Catalan dialect which only people over 60 are proficient in. It's a great song to listen to on E7.

The Platinum CollectionPLATINUM COLLECTION The Platinum Collection - Enigma

Enigma's "The Platinum Collection" was released in 2009 as a three-disc box set. The first CD contains most popular Enigma tracks from the previous years, the second CD is an album of remixes from the songs on the first disc, and the third CD contains never released before tracks and outtakes composed and produced by Michael Cretu. The artwork is recycled from the "Enigma: 15 Years After" boxset.

The first disc features the three singles from E5, none from E6 and the two singles from E7. Disc 2, the remix collection features two remixes from E5 and one from E6 and none from E7. As a fan who's sick and tired of Virgin/EMI continually releasing / recycling the same old remixes with each "new" release the third disc featuring unreleased gems on The Platinum Collection is a breath of fresh air.

The unfinished / unreleased tracks on disc 3 provide the listener with an idea and an understanding of the creative process behind Engima's songs.


As a fan and collector, this disc alone was worth the price of the boxset. I hope that future releases will include new, original content instead of the same old songs and remixes that have been released over and over again from years past.

MMX - THE SOCIAL SONG (SINGLE)

"MMX - The Social Song" is a single Enigma released on December 15th 2010 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the musical project.

In October 2010 Michael Cretu invited the fans to record themselves and vote for a vocalist to create the song via the internet.

Latvian Fox Lima's "Fei Mea" was the most voted and became the lead vocal for the social song. The three runners up, J. Spring from Spain, Mark Joshua from Brazil and Rasa Serra from Lithuania provided the backing vocals to the song.

Fans from all over the world were involved in voting on the production of the song and its final mix as well as designing its cover and creating the official video. Cretu released the song to the fans as a free download at www.enigmasocialsong.com with a promise of more interactive projects in the future.

MMX Social Song (cover)"MMX" is the first song created for and by the fans via internet.

As I've said before, Enigma's "in-between" singles ("Turn Around", "Hello and Welcome") always blow me away and have become two of my favorites. When Michael Cretu first announced this "Social Experiment" I was delighted, and as it would turn out, once again not disappointed. I think the song is beautiful, and stays true to the very spirit of Enigma. This proved Michael's theory correct: music is a true worldwide language.

I think it was a brave idea of Cretu's to allow the fans to participate, which is obviously why other producers have never tried such a feat. I also think that, with the very realistic possibility that E8 may be the last of Enigma's commercial albums for a while unless Virgin/EMI re-signs with Cretu, the "Social Song" was an innovative publicity stunt to try and attract new interest in Enigma... which according to the Social Song website it did:

■ According to NextBigSound.com the Enigma Social Song experiment reached more than 100,000 new fans on various Social Networks to date.

■ Almost 50,000 people liked Enigma’s new Facebook page (starting from zero), from which more than 36,000 visit Enigma's Facebook page monthly.

■ Enigma has more than 380,000 views of those videos that have been submitted to their YouTube channel.

■ You listened more than 75,000 times to Enigma audio files on SoundCloud. Obviously, the final “MMX (The Social Song)” is the most streamed one.

■ Enigma’s YouTube channel has reached #1 of the most viewed YouTube channels in the category Music in Spain.

■ Google Analytics shows that close to 120,000 people from more than 150 countries have visited the landing page www.EnigmaSocialSong.com so far. More than 3,300 comments on posts have been approved.

■ Over 11,000 are following Enigma on iTunes Ping (starting from zero).

■ Close to 1,000,000 people viewed Enigma's MySpace channel.

■ And last, but not least Enigma's Social Song experiment has close to 10,000 “Social Song” downloads so far.

* The numbers stated above refer to the period of the event only (10/10 – 03/11) and do not measure any so-called soft facts (e.g. engagement).

I think it would be neat if Enigma produced an entire album this way, however if this was the only experiment, or if there will be more to come in the future, I am looking forward to it with excitement just the same.

I'm saddened that the Social Song didn't occur leading up to or during the release of E8 because all of the publicity and new fans and interest from The Social Song would have been helpful in promoting the forthcoming Enigma album.


Music video for MMX The Social Song (This official video was created by the fans)

FORTHCOMING ALBUM: E8 / THE FUTURE OF "ENIGMA"

I believe E8 will be the last Enigma album for an extended period of time. No one really knows for sure if it is going to be last album, but I have personal doubts because:



  • Enigma's first chapter ended with the fourth album so the second probably will end with the eighth. After E8 is released its possible another Greatest Hits package will be released. This is usually when record companies will resign an artist or drop them from their roster. If that happens, Cretu can try to negotiate with other labels or opt to release Enigma albums independently or retire the project entirely.



Michael CretuMy E8 Wishlist

In my own dream world, my ultimate wishlist for Enigma's 8th album... would see all of the original collaborators on E1 help Michael Cretu develop and produce tracks for E8. I'm talking the "mother of all collaborations" to include Michael Cretu, David Fairstein, Frank Peterson, Sandra, Jens Gad, Peter Cornelius, Louisa Stanley, Ruth-Ann Boyle and Andru Donalds.

Could you imagine how incredible the album would be with all of these people working together? That would be a fine way to wrap up the Enigma project, or at least bring it full circle. I mean seriously, bury the hatchet with Frank Peterson and get back together - for the sake of music - for the fans.

E1 had loads of sexual overtones, French speaking, Gregorian chanting, church references, bells, sounds from centuries long ago... BRING IT ALL BACK! I'm not saying you have to repeat yourself- but surely you can create something new out of something old. That's what sold well. That's what the people wanted to hear. Go back to the original samples, the original files you worked on back in 1989 / 1990 when you first put together "MCMXC a.D.". The potential contract renewal / extension (with another 1 to 4 Enigma albums) is at stake!

If you want to go in a different direction, yet stay relevant, a good storyline could be the apocalypse, doomsday, prophecies, the coming of the Lord, Nostradamus, tribulation, the end of the world, revelation and fear- all of course tie in with the church and sexuality is still prevalent in today's culture if not now more than ever before. 2012 coincidentally, (MMXII) will be a leap year starting on Sunday in the Gregorian calendar. Maybe 2012 will be a lucky year for Enigma.

All I'm saying is go back to the original sample collections, take another listen for E8. Fan's aren't asking for an exact copy of E1 again... but whatever you did on E1 worked and since Enigma could truly use another massive worldwide hit again, I don't think this is a bad idea; it's not a bad place to start.

Sampling is and has been a large part of what contributed to Enigma's success in the first place... get back to sampling. Some of the songs that sounds the most interesting make use of samples.

Enigma revolutionized "New Age" music. Think about it. The word "New Age" music. Michael Cretu, David Fairstein and Frank Peterson ushered in a new age- a new era of world music. The world needs another Enigma album to remind us, to reunite us as one in the world, during these ever increasing turbulent times.

Ethnic Chants, the Falling Star Effect, the Moaning and Breaths, Chimes, Church Organ, Ambient Noises (Rain, Thunder, Ocean, Horses), Nervous Hi-Hats, Snares, Choirs, Reversed Beats, Reversed Vocals, French Whispering, Sudden Crossfades- they're all part of the Enigma formula- what makes Enigma, well... Enigma.
Michael Cretu
Why Enigma's Latest Music Is Not So Popular and How I Would "Fix" Enigma

The point of Enigma, hence the name of the project, is that it was supposed to be shrouded with secrecy; and over the years that has eroded. To a point, we've come to know what to expect, and there's no mystery. I've already mentioned past "mysteries" (Margarita Roig, sampling Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana", playing music and vocals in reverse) that pleasantly surprised me... I think we need more surprises.

Michael Cretu took the wrong direction when he said that he wants to be original and make every album unique and ''original'' (E5/6/7), but what he did is, completely moved away from Enigma's original feeling and uniqueness of it's sound. That's where the main problem lies. MC wanted to be original and made a mistake. He already was original with his sound, he only should try to compose it better with today's sounds, not completely change the direction and feeling of his synths and melodies.

First of all, and I hate to be the one to say this, but stylistic world music has now become more of a niche market. Radio Stations simply do not play or give Enigma's style of music a chance on mainstream top 40 radio anymore- at least not in the United States (and let's leave the politics of the U.S. aside please, because a lot of the music I listen to is from Europe).

Unless the Enigma project receives full support from not only the record label but also radio stations who reach the mainstream record-buying/downloading public, there's a slim chance of E8 becoming a global success.

The press release for E1 states the album was completed in 8 months time (with David Fairstein and Frank Peterson). Cretu's agreement with Virgin/EMI states 2-3 years between albums by contract, and we all know that Enigma needs another worldwide hit but I can't help but wonder if, in two/three years time (especially on the last 3 albums), maybe there's too much time in between releases for second-guessing and doubt, which is why the albums have less focus? Or maybe Michael hurried through them? Or neither? Spend a year and create just to create- not with the goal of making hits. That's what happened with E1... it took 8 months and Cretu didn't know what to expect so he released the album as Curly M.C. not expecting the album to take off like it did.

I know from studying the music business for two decades that three-years in-between album releases is suicide in the music industry. Think about it: the average shelf life of a pop-star at best is 5 years. In 5 years time a pop star will release 2-3 full albums and a Greatest Hits package and that's generally the last you every hear from them.

(Remember Paula Abdul or The Spice Girls). Paula Abdul waited 3 years in-between her massive "Spellbound" album in 1992 and by the time she released "Head Over Heels" in 1995 her audience had moved on. Sure, there are exceptions; but this is how its worked in the Industry for years and years. The same has happened for Janet Jackson. She waited three years between "The Velvet Rope" in 1997 and "All for You" in 2001 and "All for You" didn't chart as well as her previous album. So she waits another three years and releases "Damita Jo" in 2004 and struggles even further. Did you know she's released an additional two albums since? Probably not unless you're a Janet fan since they didn't get any promotion.

What I'm saying is... three years is A LONG TIME and the general public has forgotten about Enigma. Lack of radio airplay had contributed to this. So has lack of other promotion such as touring. Most artists try to make an album release a huge EVENT with weeks and months of TV and radio promo, and a world tour.

We get a press release that Enigma's releasing an album, maybe a lackluster music video and that's it. How is that going to sell records... especially to a public who's forgotten who you are? The fans in 1990 are all grown up now with families of their own. This isn't a bad thing- there are generations and generations of people the entire world over who have never been exposed to Enigma.


Now is the BEST TIME to release a new album if all sides can commit to proper promotion and publicity. I'm just not sure that Virgin/EMI knows how to properly promote New Age music and the Enigma brand, and based on their track record with the last 3 albums... I'm not sure that they care either.

Enigma needs a groundbreaking / breakthrough new single with a kick-ass music video and club friendly remixes by some of the top DJ's and remixers (Oakenfold, BT, Kaskade, ATB). Michael Cretu and Virgin/EMI need to commit to promote E8 with every ounce of marketing muscle they have. They also need the support of mainstream radio, clubs and DJs. It wouldn't hurt to have the lead single tied in with the soundtrack of a summer-blockbuster (theme song to the new 2012/2013 Bond film maybe?) Maybe another Social Song experiment tied to MTV/VH1 aimed at teen/young adults would help break Enigma into a new age demographic while still appealing to its fan base. After all, these kids have no idea what Enigma is; they're only being fed Rap and R&B tunes.

P.S. - I really enjoy b-sides, bonus tracks, 2 disc sets... throw in a juicy bonus for your loyal fans and get them talking... get them excited... and they'll promote with word of mouth for free. (Also, I'm bummed there weren't any remixes from E7!!!)

I know in past interviews Cretu has said he's opposed to doing collaborations with big name celebrities; however I think now is the best time to reconsider this. First, it will add something new to the project for the Enigma fans. Second, you have an instant built-in fan base from whomever you choose to work with which will help boost sales and promotion. I'm not suggesting Madonna- but if you used Madonna in one of your productions (as an example), she comes with a guarantee of a certain level of promotion by default based on who she is, and by default X number of fans will buy the album/single just because Madonna contributed on it. I want to state again that I am NOT suggesting Madonna as a potential collaborator on an Enigma album. Maybe the collaboration should be a secret; that would add to the fun / mystery for Enigma fans and the fans of whomever was chosen for a collaboration. Perhaps it could be revealed for the first time in ... concert. More details on this below in a moment.

I do think it would be interesting to collaborate with Kylie Minogue, Kristy Thirsk, Sarah McLachlan or the lesser-known Monalisa Young who could provide some awesome background vocals for the project. Or... for the new age fan, what would an Enigma-Enya collaboration sound like? Maybe an Enigma/Deep Forest/Enigma collaboration? That would surprise the hell out of fans. It could work, and reinvigorate the brand... just please... less of Andru Donalds and Ruth-Ann's vocals.

The release of E8 should also come with an announcement of the first Enigma world tour. Everyone who's been involved with the project, who wants to be involved should be involved. Cretu, Ruth Ann, Angel X, Andru Donalds, Sandra- should all be there singing live. The show could be in a theatre-like style with ethnic dancing, monks, and so on. It would be neat to include the key social song participants and bring them out on the road too. You'd only have to play major markets - Germany, Paris, Spain, UK, Los Angeles, New York, but this would really help publicize the new album and garner the attention of new fans, and old and spark a new interest in Enigma. And yes, I would enjoy a complimentary pair of tickets and a chance to shake Mr. Cretu's hand for the suggestion.

Overall, I think that poor radio promotion, lack of touring, poor music videos and selecting the wrong singles, along with a lack of mystery and misguided albums have all contributed to the downfall of Enigma over the last three albums.

Let me ask you something...

When was the last time you heard Enigma in a movie, television show, or movie trailer? When was the last time you thought to yourself "Wow (song name here) would have been perfect for (name TV show/movie here)... ??? Enigma's publishing company needs to be actively pursuing licensees, not just sitting and waiting for people to come to them. If M.C.'s publishing company was more aggressive in seeking movie trailers, soundtracks and TV shows that featured his Enigma songs, this would help boost an interest in Enigma! But this hasn't been happening. At least not that I've experienced lately in the US.


Trailer for "The Matrix" movie (Enigma's "Eyes of the Truth" makes an appearance at the end)

Delerium's "Karma" album coverDelerium's album "Karma" is proof that "new age" music is alive and well. The duo's collaboration with Sarah McLachlan, on the song "Silence", became the band's biggest hit single 10 years after their formation.


The song was such a hit for Delerium they released it again as a remixed compilation disc in 2004 and the song was remixed again in 2006, 2008 and 2009- providing fans with new takes on a song they love so dearly. Enigma continues to release the same old recycled remixes over and over and over again. I'll be the first to admit it... Enigma was the one and only "New Age" artist I ever had listened to (aside from Enya's "Orinoco Flow" / "Caribbean Blue" singles. "Silence" is proof that New Age music can become popular once more. Karma - Delerium


Delerium's "Silence" featuring Sarah McLachlan from the album "Karma"

Will Mr. Cretu be able to create something BIG for Enigma once more?


Yes, I with no doubt in my mind believe that Enigma can fuse and blend amazing, intriguing cultural beats into a relevant worldwide hit album once again... but it will take the right single, released at the right time, with the right promotion to succeed.

Whether the stars will realign and allow this magical combination to create a second globally successful hit phenomenon, and whether that single will ever see the light of day is indeed an Enigma of it's own.


(Special thanks to Wikipedia for helping me with my research for this article, which I had been wanting to write for several years now.)







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