Fergie and Dave Grohl fly solo

Soundtrack: artists in search of new sound

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Fergie

Sometimes a musician must step away from the band that made them famous and fly solo.

Whether artists claim they’re in search of greater creative expression or a different sound " or in most cases, the allure of increased fame and money " not all solo projects are successful. It takes talent, luck, and a ton of marketing to separate the musician from the band. The following is a selection of solo ventures that are worth a repeat listen.

Fergie " Big Girls Don’t Cry
• Admit it: even if you’re a music snob, you can’t help but hum along when this tune comes on the radio. This track may boast some of the worst lyrics in recent history (“I’m gonna miss you like a child misses their blanket”), but coming from the woman who used to sing “My humps, my humps, my humps,” it could be worse. Fergie shows a side of her voice seldom heard: her singing sounds sweet, vulnerable, and pretty.

Foo Fighters " Walking After You
• Foo Fighters started as Dave Grohl’s solo project after the death of Kurt Cobain and the end of Nirvana. This track from the band’s second album, The Colour and the Shape, is a heartbreaking ode to loving someone so much you’d never let them go ... even if they just broke up with you. It’s a far cry from the harder sound the Foos produce today, though maybe that’s a good thing.

Neil Young " Everybody Knows This is Nowhere
•`Although Young toured Canada as a solo artist before joining Buffalo Springfield, his real solo success came after that band’s break-up. In the title track from his second major solo album, Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, Young reminisces about his small-town beginnings, in contrast with his life in the big city. This tune is perfect for reflecting on your hometown, big or small, while away at university.

Paul McCartney " Dance Tonight
• This heavy-on-the-mandolin cut from McCartney’s new disc Memory Almost Full, is filled with simple, happy lyrics that are mostly variations of the line “Everybody’s gonna dance tonight!” McCartney, known as one of the world’s best songwriters for over 40 years, flexes his muscle on this delicate track. It takes real skill to make plain lyrics and a simple melody uplifting.

Michael Jackson " Billie Jean
• Say what you want about the manic Jackson, but this track from his Thriller album almost nullifies his insanity. Written in response to accusations by a crazed fan that he fathered her child, Jackson takes serious subject matter and transforms it into what could be the best friggin’ dance song you will ever hear in your life. Twenty-four years after this track was first released, it still rocks.

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