Thursday, September 29, 2011

Songs You May Have Missed: Luciana Edition

American clubgoers and fans of Jersey Shore may know of Luciana Caporaso, the bad bitch from Britain who's been knocking European and Australian audiences flat for years, from the Richard Vission/Static Revenger song "I Like That," which made waves after being included on the iconic MTV show's first soundtrack album. Well, we Americans have now said "I Like That" to Luciana, whose first charting single in the US, "I'm Still Hot," has just hit #1 on the Dance Club Songs chart. In honor of the paint-throwing, dollar bill-loving singer, songwriter and all-around badass, I thought I'd revive our Songs You May Have Missed series with a special Luciana edition. Get familiar with her or live to regret it.

"I'm Still Hot" - Luciana (iTunes) / "I'm Still Hot" - Luciana feat. Betty White (iTunes)

The Dave Aude-produced hit is Luciana's first solo billing since releasing four low-charting singles in 1994. It serves as something of a comeback single after a relatively quiet period during which Caporaso wrote "Cupid Boy" for Kylie Minogue's 2010 album Aphrodite and moved to the US, ostensibly to begin work on a solo album (we hope). Earlier this month Luciana put out a hilarious re-release to benefit the Lifeline Program, teaming up with Golden Girl Betty White, who delivers such gems as "I've locked my Emmys in my beat box, beat box" and "I'll rock your world with my cheesecake!" Still hot, indeed.

"Figure It Out" - Dave Aude feat. Isha Coco (iTunes)

I became something of a Dave Aude devotee sometime last year after discovering his brilliant production on Yoko Ono's Dance Club Songs chart-topper "Wouldnit (I'm a Star)." Among my favorite tracks I accumulated in the subsequent rush to collect all things Aude is this high-energy kiss-off to the kind of guy who don't know what he's got 'til it's gone. Imagine my surprise and delight to learn, many months later, that the vocalist behind the alias Isha Coco is none other than our dear Luciana, who can warble every bit as well as she can speak-sing. "Figure It Out" is a prime example of the expert blend of pop-infused dance that Aude is known for and which makes him one of the most successful remixers of pop hits (he has earned a whopping 72 number ones on the Dance Club Songs chart as a remixer or producer).

"I Got My Eye On You" - Nari e Milani and Cristian Marchi feat.  Luciana (Cristian Marchi and Paolo Sandrini Perfect Mix) (iTunes)

The story is pretty straightforward: someone has stolen Luciana's record bag, and she wants it back. "In fact, give me the vinyl and I'll leave you intact," she says, and you know she ain't kidding. I have half a mind to hire her to retrieve some of my own pilfered property, actually. The bouncing, understated production is the work of Italian DJs Cristian Marchi and Nari e Milani, and though Luciana warns "If you don't like the beat, better get the fuck out," there's little chance of that being necessary.

"Shut Your Mouth" - Bodyrox and Luciana (iTunes)

The best of Luciana's collaborations with UK house duo Bodyrox, "Shut Your Mouth" is pretty much a perfect song. Its deep, assaultive beat maintains the same energy from the first moment to the last, and Luciana's lyrics are sewn in with particular seamlessness in such a way that they become almost an element of the beat itself. The syncopation of "I'm hittin,' stickin' you, packin' you, stackin', crackin' you up" blends with the accented staccato of the electronic beat, occasionally pulling back a bit with the legato hook "Hands up/ Shoot you down/ You better shut your mouth" that features a pinball machine-esque bouncing melodic line. The balls-out climax combines the smacking beat, Luciana's up-and-down "oh-Oh-oh" triplet at double rate, and what sounds like the pinball machine on amphetamines, which is topped off by a spine-tingling dropoff back to just the basic beat and Luciana's triplet, which serves as a cool-down lap after an exhilarating 400-meter sprint. Like I said, it's perfect.

"Say I'm Gonna Be Your Boy (Cold Mix)" - Criminal Vibes feat. Luciana (iTunes)

One of the best recent Luciana features is this deliciously transcendent club gem from European DJs Criminal Vibes, and it is basically amazing - plus it was released on my birthday (the same day as Robyn dropped Body Talk Part 1) which makes it extra amazing. If you can get past the 4:17 mark without your heart skipping a beat, you're a hardier type than I. Like Bodyrox, the producers really know how to work Luciana's vocals into the track so they blend seamlessly into the mix and feel every bit as necessary and fundamental as the beat itself and the rest of the electronic sound. This of course is also Luciana's achievement and strength, and why she is such a sought-after dance/electro vocalist; she has a keen understanding of dance and the elements of rhythm and sound that make it up. When she works with electro producers on this kind of project she does so more as a collaborator than a guest vocalist. It's the kind of intricate, behind and in front of the curtain role Britney Spears has expressed interest in and experiments with on Femme Fatale. It would be interesting to see Spears and Caporaso hook up on Spears' next project; I think Spears would really dig Luciana and find her to be a great mentor as she further explores the electronic world - and it goes without saying that any results from such a collaboration would cause heads to explode worldwide.

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