Katharine McPhee, Club Queen
Ok, maybe not. However, this recent New York Magazine feature on hot hip-hop producer, Ryan Leslie (he produced the hip-hop hit “Me & U” for Cassie, who famously bombed attempting to perform the song on BET) reveals that there was something to those rumors that had Katharine McPhee taking on a bit of hip-hop flavah on her upcoming debut album. An excerpt from the article (you can find this snip on page 3):
…We quickly head to the Fifth Avenue offices of J Records, where Leslie is scheduled to meet with label executive Steve Ferrera.
Ferrera hopes Leslie will write and produce tracks for the debut album by Katherine McPhee, last season American Idol runner-up. When Leslie arrives, Ferrera hands him a picture of McPhee. …As you can see, says Ferrera, …she obviously extremely hot looking. (Leslie nods.) …If I put a piece of sh*t on a CD, it will guarantee a million sales, Ferrara continues. …But if we get this thing right, it Kelly Clarkson. It 15 million records.
Ferrera slides in a CD of a demo song McPhee has already recorded. …I want to see how urban she can go. Believably. The music begins. …This song is called ‹Open Toes, shouts Ferrera over the deafening beat. …It about hot shoes with open toes, he yells. The only lyric I manage to make out goes … Cuz I know that boys, they like these open toes.
This is the real Tin Pan Alley side of the business. A new star gets designated by the label and then later, someone has to write the songs for her. In this case, Ferrera hopes to set up McPhee with Timbaland (perhaps the most lauded hip-hop producer of our time, who recently lent his talent to the new Justin Timberlake album), Babyface (who twice set the record for longest run at No. 1 on the Billboard singles chart), and Leslie. All three will end up working with McPhee; Leslie doing two songs.
How urban can Katharine go? Believably? Fans at IDF tracked down this demo of “Open Toes” at promosquad.com. Here’s a sample lyric: I’ve been needing a girls night out…I got nothin’ but hand-me-downs…I need a quick fix to make these clothes hotter…No matter what it is, a girl’s gotta…
EEP. And Katharine’s attempt at Urban? Her delivery: Valley Mall Girl Goes Ghetto. Like Totally. Not buying her Urban thang.
Better, are two cuts that also showed up on promo squad–R&B ballads Over It and Each Other. But, even these generic R&B songs just don’t sound authentic. Maybe that’s because, at age 22, Katharine has yet to develop her own artistic identity. Until she does, high-powered producers like Timbaland, Babyface and Ryan Leslie will be free to fashion one for her.
Only when Katharine matures into a style that’s truly her own, will she have a chance at a long-lasting career.
thanks ray, crb, b and x