You may think you’ve seen girlbands before, but it’s been a <very> long time since you’ve seen one quite like the Ultra Girls. Going back to the roots of what it means to be girls in a band, Lucy, Lauren, Amy and Laura are taking the essence of Girl Power but moving it into the 21st Century by adding slick dance moves, funky vocals and lashings of attitude.
Hailing from Leeds, this four-piece are proud Northerners – warning: any Southerners might need subtitles when the girls get into full excitable mode – and want to put their city on the music map. The perfect antidote for anyone sick of dirgy indie or tacky ballads, these are the sort of girls you’d see on a Saturday night leading a nightclub full of people to a made up dance routine.
“We’re young and fun. We want you to dance with us, wear your trackies with us and go crazy. It’s not ‘look how sexy we are’ its girls singing about girls lives, not taking it too seriously or being too polished.”
Or, to quote their own lyrics, “Trouble with a capital T”.
Ultra Girls’ story begins in March 2008, on a wet and windy rugby pitch when the girls were all dancers for Leeds Rhinos rugby club. They soon realised they all had an unfulfilled love for singing and were, “Bored of waiting on the sidelines”. So during one particularly boring car journey back from a game the girls decided it was time to man up, show each other what they could do and put <themselves> on the starting line to see if they had what it takes.
Despite their distinct musical tastes – from indie to R&B, Motown to extreme pop – the girls were united in two things: their teenage love for the Spice Girls and the belief the industry was missing a girlband with raw energy that danced as well as they sung. Hardcore rehearsals followed for six months, but instead of doing a few little pub gigs to one man and his dog, the girls decided to throw themselves in at, the very deepest bit of the deep end.
“Our first gig was at Elland Road stadium in front of 32,000 people” explains Amy “We were clueless. We didn’t know what we were doing, but we absolutely loved it.” More gigs round the city followed until a little thing called the <X Factor> came along in 2009. The girls decided to give it a go and surprised even themselves, when they made it all the way to Louis Walsh’s house. Despite leaving the show at that stage, it cemented what they’d always know: that singing was their destiny. “For us that was just the beginning,” says Lauren It gave us so much confidence and cemented exactly what Project A was all about.” Project A? Huh? “Well that was the original name, a ‘work in progress’. We left that name behind, as we wanted something that summed up where we are now, as well as showing our personalities and energy.”
And the girls’ personalities are as distinct as their looks. If there was an award for best stomach on a girl in pop ever, it would go to Lauren Green, 23, who brings an urban vibe to the group – though before that she went to stage school, then joining a tribute act with Tom from the Wanted – he did Take That, she did Girls Aloud. She got the funk.
Ultra number two is blonde Amy Burrow, 27. As the eldest of the group, she gives the impression of being the most sensible, but is also obsessed with Jared Leto and er, Peter Andre. Her love for performing developed when she was a young teenager and joined a dance and drama group, where even then she was crazy about pure pop, “I’ve always listened to Britney, Backstreet Boys, Nync, even Aqua. Anything that just makes you feel good and dance around. I hate it when people say pop’s cheesy.”
Looking like a cross between the best bits of Alexa Chung and Rachel Stevens, is Laura Henderson though her bandmates aren’t always so complimentary, “Lucy tells me I act like a lad”. The 22 year old lives with her family and two cats – one’s called Ruby who used to be a girl, but is now a boy. Obviously!
There’s cheeky. And then there’s Lucy “I can’t sit here and not speak” Graham. A 21 year old bundle of energy, who first started performing age three, “I loved being centre of attention even then”. But beneath the bolshy exterior lies a hugely ambitious core, I want us to be number one around the world.” Beside, her psychic told her she was going to be big in Germany.
So when you’re aiming big, you’ve got to be surrounded by big, and the team who are helping the girls along the way are none other than Pop’s dream team (aka the newly christened Ultra Family). Including executive producer Steve Anderson (Kylie, Westlife, Britney), stylist Kenny Ho (Spice Girls & Girls Aloud), songwriter and musical director Sarah deCourcy (Christophe Willem, Kylie & Mel C), choreographers Aaron Sillis (Kylie & Cheryl Cole) and Tony Testa (Lady Gaga, Britney, Kylie, and Michael Jackson). “We’re the luckiest girlgroup in the world!” they, quite rightly, say.
After a 12 month whirlwind of refining their modern-energetic pop sound and beginning to write their own songs and commuting between Leeds and London the girls are gearing up for the launch of their new single, <Girls Will be Girls>, next year. Their debut is an old-school up-lifting belter with tight vocals and of course a funky dance routine and they have very high hopes “We can’t pretend we don’t want a number one. Of course we do. We want to walk into a club and see everyone singing along,” says Lucy. They’re also halfway through the first album due in Summer 2011 – as well as gigging all over the place; recently supporting Tinchy Stryder.
They put it best themselves, “People are just waiting for a girlband to come and shake things up. Not just be present but completely take over and knock everyone else dead.”
Supermodel Miranda Kerr Reveals Baby Bump. Miranda Kerr has revealed the proof of her pregnancy for the first time in a video to promote her new organic skincare line. The Australian supermodel, who recently married Orlando Bloom in a secret ceremony, unveils her tiny baby bump while she practices yoga in the video. Kerr, 27, announced last month that she is expecting her first child with the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star. And although she’s already in her fourth month, her bump displays just a small rise from her diminutive figure. The video is for her organic skincare line Kora, in which she can be seen practicing yoga and speaking on her healthy lifestyle. The supermodel and the actor announced their engagement in June. A month later, they announced that they had married in “an intimate ceremony,” prompting speculations that they had speedy wedding because she was pregnant. In August, Kerr admitted to the Spanish edition of Vogue that she already is four months along.
Nelly Furtado Debuts New Songs At Concert. Nelly Furtado is getting ready to make her comeback to the music scene with her upcoming English language album. She surprised fans by performing two new tracks at a recent concert. Furtado headlined the Orange Warsaw Festival in Poland where she debuted the new tracks, but some fans might have already recognized them. The two songs, “Free” and “Girlfriend In the City,” had recently leaked online and are set to be featured on her new album “Lifestyle,” Furtado’s fourth English language album and fifth studio album overall. “Lifestyle” follows the release of her first Spanish language album last year, “Mi Plan.” “Lifestyle” is her first English album since 2006′s “Loose,” which yielded the #1 hits “Say It Right” and “Promiscuous.” On “Free,” Furtado aims at a pulsating dance sound on the Salaam Remi-produced track, only hinted at on previous singles like “Maneater” off “Loose.” On “Girlfriend in the City,” Furtado uses a more organic, string-based production for a song more reminiscent of her underrated “Folklore” album. For the new album, she also hooked up Timbaland, who produced most of “Loose.” She’s also rumored to be working with Ryan Tedder, who produced Beyonce’s “Halo” and Kelly Clarkson’s “Already Gone.” The album was originally set for release back in May, but is now expected to drop before year’s end.
Influenced by the unpredictable rhymes of Missy Elliot along with the sexually charged attitudes of Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown, Jamaica, Queens, native Nicki Minaj was discovered thanks to her /MySpace page. It was there that Dirty Money Entertainment CEO Fendi first heard her ability to freestyle and first laid eyes on her steamy set of promo shots. With killer curves she was obviously proud to flaunt plus a background in the performing arts thanks to the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Art — the school that had inspired the movie Fame — Minaj was a perfect fit for Fendi’s urban DVD magazine, The Come Up. She appeared in numerous volumes, including number 11, which spotlighted her future label boss, superstar rapper Lil Wayne. Through Fendi, Wayne contacted Minaj and signed her to his Young Money label. They began to build her career through mixtapes like Lil Wayne’s Dedication 3 and Minaj’s own Sucka Free. Meanwhile, appearances on various remixes — everything from T.I.’s “No Matter What” to Jeffree Star’s club track “Cupcakes Taste Like Violence” — helped spread the word. The big breakthrough came when Wayne added his rhymes to her “High as a Kite” single, a mixtape favorite in 2008.
Chris Brown working with JLS on their second album. US singer Chris Brown is said to be working with British boyband JLS on their second album. The R&B star lost favour with fans when he was found guilty of assaulting his ex-girlfriend, pop singer Rihanna. However JLS, who found fame on The X Factor, have now been working with Brown in the studio and they want him to help them crack America. A source told UK newspaper The Sun: “JLS have been working in the studio with Chris. Aston was really excited about it and has told pals back in the UK. He was quite starstruck. ”They have been writing and recording together and delivered some great stuff for the second album.
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The new single Stellify is released 21 September on Fiction. It is followed a week later by his sixth studio album, My Way, which will debut almost two years to the day after his last long player, The World Is Yours. Where that record was led by the anti-war single Illegal Attacks, My Way sees Brown moving from the socio-political to the personal, drawing deep from his own experiences to create his most intensely emotional record in years. The bulk of the 12 tracks were co-written with long time collaborator Dave McCracken at Battery Studios, London, where Brown and the Stone Roses recorded their seminal debut 20 years before. When he bumped into that album’s producer, John Leckie, in the studio corridors for the first time in two decades, it proved the catalyst for another landmark record, but this time one that spans the length and breadth of Brown’s Continue reading →
Bryce Dallas Howard is having a total ‘Eclipse’ of the heart. The ‘Terminator Salvation’ star has joined the cast of ‘The Twilight Saga: Eclipse,’ taking over as villainous vampire Victoria for Rachelle Lefevre, who dropped out due to “scheduling conflicts.” [EW.com] | [Howard vs. Lefevre: Who Should Play Victoria?] ‘Twilight’ star Rachelle Lefevre has released a statement saying that she’s “stunned” by yesterday’s announcement that Bryce Dallas Howard will replace her as the villainous vampire Victoria in ‘The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.’ Lefevre was Continue reading →
BLOC PARTY were forced to scrap an performance in Miami after Kele Okereke fell ill with a throat virus. The singer contracted viral pharyngitis – an inflammation of the throat as they were due to play at the Ultra Music Festival on Saturday. The group apologised for the cancellation and assured fans they will return to Miami to play in the near future. A statement on their website said: “Kele has contracted viral pharyngitis and is unable to perform today at the Ultra Music Festival in beautiful Miami, FL. “We send our heartfelt apologies to all our fans and the Ultra Music Festival organisers. We hope to return to Miami, FL, at our earliest opportunity.”
Equally inspired by Sonic Youth, Joy Division, Gang of Four, and the Cure, East London art punkers Bloc Party mix angular sonics with pop structures. Consisting of singer/guitarist Kele Okereke, guitarist Russell Lissack, bassist/singer Gordon Moakes, and drummer Matt Tong, the band was formerly known as Angel Range and Union before settling on Bloc Party. Okereke and Lissack met each other through mutual friends at the Reading Festival, and discovered that they had musical tastes as well as friends in common. Tong and Moakes soon joined their collaboration, and under the name Union, the quartet issued a demo in early 2003; later that year, they switched their name to Bloc Party.
The group’s demo and concerts began to attract attention from both the press and their peers; Okereke sent a copy of the demo to Franz Ferdinand, who invited them to play at the Domino tenth anniversary bash in fall 2003. Early the following year, the band released one of the demo’s tracks, “She’s Hearing Voices,” as a single on Trash Aesthetics. A few months later, Banquet/Staying Fat arrived on Moshi Moshi. That spring, Bloc Party signed to Wichita to release their full-length album in the U.K., and to Dim Mak for U.S. distribution. The band spent summer 2004 recording and touring. Late that summer, Bloc Party, which collected the band’s first two singles, arrived in the States. Their debut album, Silent Alarm, appeared early in 2005 and was released by Vice Records in the States to widespread acclaim. Later that year, Silent Alarm Remixed capitalized on the band’s burgeoning popularity, as did the 2006 EP Helicopter. A Weekend in the City, Bloc Party’s second proper album, followed in 2007. A Weekend in the City leaked onto the Internet months before the album’s street date, which inspired Bloc Party to issue their third album, Intimacy, online in late summer 2008; the album was released on compact disc that fall
Arnel Pineda – The beginning
We are four in a brood and Arnel heads the crew, being the eldest. As in his earlier testaments, life indeed was tough but it was bit manageable when our Ima (mama in capampangan) was still around. Mother was headstrong, feisty, straight-forward and a strong resolve.
I can say that our mother still wields a greater influence on Arnel compared to any other personality that he had encountered. He takes after her resiliency and courage; the traits that guide him to this day. Her ability to blend well with people was also instilled on him, in preparation for his future dealings with people of mixed culture and orientation. I marvel at his disarming humility, which erases any more reason not to like him. And all these good things about him were not learned easily; Arnel travelled a long way prior to his long-delayed arrival. Continue reading →