Saturday, 31 October 2009

Saturday Spotlight: Imogen Heap

Well, I'm back from a bit of a break from blogging (how's that for alliteration?) -- self-imposed, I'm afraid, due to having more work than you can shake a stick at needing to be done and leaving little time for the things I love to do, like blogging.

But I'm here now, and rest assured, I'll have more going up each week than just a Saturday Spotlight from now on. A Being Erica mid-season recap and a review of Moulin Rouge - The Ballet are already in the works.

But enough about that -- let's get to the music.


Imogen Heap is, quite frankly, the sort of artist that doesn't fit well into boxes; she shatters genre barriers with the same force as someone like Tori Amos or The Beatles. You could call it "electronica", you could call it "pop" -- what Ms. Heap makes is music, in every sense of the word.

She released a debut album called I Megaphone in 1998, but it was with Frou Frou, her collaboration with Guy Sigsworth, that her career arguably began. Their first (and only) album, Details, was well-received upon its release in 2002 -- but it took opener "Let Go"'s inclusion in the Garden State soundtrack two years later for the mainstream to take notice.

The inenvitable thing about a collaboration like Frou Frou, however, is that sooner or later people assume Heap just contributed vocals and Sigsworth did all the heavy lifting -- which is as far from the truth as you can get. It seems fitting, then, that her second solo album would be called Speak for Yourself-- a record produced, orchestrated and financed entirely by herself.

The album's sales rose significantly when "Hide and Seek" was played during a critical moment in teen drama The O.C., sparking enormous interest in Heap and her music. (Note: A recent hit by Jason DeRulo, "Whatcha Say", sampled the song; Heap's fanbase seems to be divided over its quality.)

Speak for Yourself offered a few more hits for Heap, like "Goodnight and Go" and the breathtaking "Headlock", which had an equally captivating video to match.

One of the constant criticisms directed at artists like Imogen Heap is that their music, which owes much to its structuring in the studio, doesn't always translate well in a live setting; however, with her inventive recreation of songs like "Just for Now", in which an awe-inspiring level of layers is used to create a unique experience, Heap has proven her critics wrong.

Ellipse, her most recent release, came out in August; since then, she's gained plenty of (well-deserved) attention for her innovative songwriting process and eclectic musical taste, something which first single "First Train Home" has in spades.

Finally, here's her recent cover of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" (seems fitting, what with Halloween and all), which takes the song and completely transforms it, reminding the listener of Heap's powerful voice and incredible musicianship. Hope you enjoy.

Until next time,