Thursday, May 27, 2010

First Listen: Kimberly Cole - "Smack You"

Editor's Note: I am thrilled to publish the first post written for Vertigo Shtick by pop aficionado (and fellow Britney Spears apologist) Kurt Bitter, whose work will hopefully continue showing up here and there from here on out.

A few months ago I found myself in Tricia Miranda’s hip hop class at Debbie Reynolds Studio. I’d been expecting the type of routine that Tricia has become notorious for in the LA dance scene – either something full-out and hood, or something slow and sexy. You can probably imagine my shock when she first plays the song we’d be dancing to: a legitimate, certified pop song. It turns out Tricia had been hired as the choreographer for Kimberly Cole, an artist who first found success on Myspace Music and is currently attempting to break into the mainstream, and we’d be learning the choreography to “Smack You” that would later be used on her promo tour. And so I really had no choice but to listen to the first minute of “Smack You” at least 20 times over the next hour, during which time I grew to like the track.

Given its crass nature and up-tempo beat “Smack You” could easily be something that Katy Perry would record, which is hardly a bad thing. The song is aggressive, catchy, and very dance-able. The first verse and pre-chorus slowly gain momentum before we’re thrown into the frenzy of a chorus, which promises flying lipstick, thrown punches, and bruised groins. We exit the chorus with a daunting warning: watch out, because Cole’s ready to “smack a bitch.”

Musically and lyrically the song isn’t anything new, which may pose problems for Cole (pictured at right, with Miranda) as she continues to seek endorsements. But for us that doesn’t matter. The song is just damn fun, and she can definitely sing. She’s no Christina, but she’s on par with what the radio has forced us to become accustomed to. However, what I like most about Cole, and what will help her stand out amongst all the other dance-pop princesses striving for recognition, is her commitment to performance. I’ve seen one of Cole’s performances live and several others on YouTube and as a dancer myself I appreciate the effort she puts in to putting on a show. Not in terms of theatricality, but in terms of pure movement on stage. This is largely Tricia’s doing, and the two clearly work well together. Her performances are exquisitely choreographed and never dull, and sometimes feature contortionists, men on stilts, and gymnasts. Oh, and Cole roller skates. On stage. While singing and dancing. Watching a video of her performing really doesn’t do her justice; seeing her in person is a total visual overload, and exactly what I like to see from pop artists.

So give “Smack You” a listen, and watch Cole’s performance at The Choreographer’s Carnival (video at bottom) a monthly showcase in LA that regularly features some of the country’s most reputable choreographers. I’d love for her to gain a wider audience because I feel like her performances fill a great void in today’s live pop shows, and this post is my attempt to help this happen.

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